How Drinking Soda or Fruit Juice Can Erode Your Tooth Enamel
Keep your smile bright by eating right and avoiding the sugary beverages and starchy foods that invite tooth decay and enamel erosion.
The Harmful Effects of Soda on Your Teeth
While fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, dairy products and sugarless chewing gum help keep your mouth healthy, sugary liquids like soda and fruit juice can erode tooth enamel and permanently damage teeth.
What Happens When Enamel is Worn Away
Tooth enamel is worn away, or eroded, when the phosphoric and citric acids of soft drinks or juices dissolve the calcium in teeth.
Normally, your saliva promotes a balance in your mouth’s environment, ensuring that the constant dissolving and replacement of the minerals in your teeth is equal.
However, when you drink carbonated drinks, your mouth gets more acidic, the saliva can’t keep up its buffering function and more calcium is dissolved than replaced.
Because children and young adults have newer and weaker enamel, their teeth are more susceptible to the damage caused by sugary and acidic drinks.
When tooth enamel is worn away, teeth become stained and brown. Although it’s better to avoid the damage altogether, dentists can be consulted on possible treatments or remedies for unsightly, cavity-prone areas of eroded enamel.
Carbonated Soft Drinks
Sugary soft drinks destroy teeth both by causing decay and by erosion. Although most of us would assume that sugar-laden sodas would be harmful to teeth, it’s not just regular soda that damages tooth enamel.
All carbonated soft drinks, both diet and regular, contain citric and phosphoric acids that wear away at tooth enamel.
Sports drinks, while they may seem like a safer alternative, are also sugary and acidic and may be even more damaging to teeth.
Fruit is part of a healthy, balanced diet, but it’s better to eat whole fruit than drink the juice. Whole fruit has more fiber, less concentrated sugar and, in some cases, less acid than juices.
If you need to drink juice, read labels carefully to make sure the juice does not contain added sugar.
Some studies have found that juices like highly acidic orange juice can be just as bad as soda in eroding tooth enamel. Grapefruit and lemon juices have been found to be even more damaging than orange juice.
What You Can Do Prevent Damage to Enamel
The first and most obvious way to avoid the damage caused by carbonated soft drinks and juice would of course be to avoid drinking them altogether. However, many people are reluctant to totally forgo these beverages, and there are ways to minimize their impact on teeth.
If you want to protect your teeth, drink soda, juice or other sugary beverages with a meal, since exposure time is shorter and food helps neutralize the acids.
Orange juice is a super source of vitamin C, but drink it fast since sipping slowly over a period of time gives acid a better chance to linger and damage teeth.
Use a straw to keep acid and sugar from having too much direct contact with teeth, swish water around your mouth after imbibing juice or soda and use fluoride-based toothpaste.
Dr. Nielsen can provide preventive care, including protective tooth sealants and annual fluoride treatments.