A General Dentist Answers FAQ About Soda, Sports and Energy Drinks on Teeth

Posted on: May 3, 2016

General DentistAs a general dentist, I want my patients to understand the health impact of drinking carbonated beverages. Most people head to the vending machine, purchase a soda and are completely unaware of the damage that can be done to their teeth by drinking it. If you consume any type of soda, energy drink or sports drink on a regular basis, you are exposing your teeth to potential erosion. To better understand the significance of this read the FAQ below –

How do studies measure erosion to compare the impact of sports and energy drinks on teeth?

In a study published by The Academy of General Dentistry, the dissolution of enamel was measured as weight loss. This was done using an in vitro multiple exposure model. In this particular test, they were comparing the risk of drinking energy drinks with sports drinks. They found that the enamel weight loss was 2 times higher after drinking energy drinks as it was to sports drinks.

Does it matter what type of beverages I drink?

Yes, it certainly does. As a general dentist, I warn my patients not to drink anything that has a pH level lower than 4 and to limit how often they drink anything with a pH level lower than 6 or 7. Remember that dentin dissolves below a pH of 6.5 and enamel below a pH of 5.5.  Unfortunately, this includes the majority of drinks that are available on the market commercially. In fact, the American Dental Association published a study where 379 drinks were tested to determine what their pH level was and how likely they were to cause significant erosion. They found that 93% of the drinks tested were all dangerous for the teeth, being labeled either extremely evasive or erosive. Drinks that are safe for your teeth include water and milk.

Is diet soda as bad for your teeth as regular soda?

Yes and No. Statistically, soda that is full of sugar is going to be more erosive than diet soda or diet drinks in general. The pH of Coke Classic is 2.50 and the pH of Diet Coke is 3.28.  Both will dissolve the enamel on your teeth. There are many overall health impacts on drinking diet beverages.

Is there a type of soda that is worse than another?

Yes, as a general dentist, I reference a study published by the AGD in which all types of soda products were tested. According to their research, Cola products, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper were considered to be less aggressive than Mountain Dew, Sprite and Ginger Ale. Think of it this way, uncolas are erosive than colas However, you should be aware that this same study demonstrated that pure citrus juices are far more erosive than soda products.

Why are these drinks so bad for my teeth?

Most commercially available drinks have acid that has been added to them in order to create a tart and tangy taste. This includes the addition of phosphoric acid and citric acid. Both of these can help to assist in prolonging shelf-life as well as enhancing the flavor. Unfortunately, they also make most commercially produced beverages incredibly dangerous for your teeth.

What do they actually do to my teeth?

The study produced by AGD found that within the first 3 minutes of exposure to the teeth, cola drinks and fruit juices are likely to reduce the microhardness in your enamel. There are differences, however, between the impact of various drinks on the market. For example, both orange juice and sports drinks will reduce the hardness of your enamel. By comparison, cola products will reduce the hardness of your enamel, your dentin, any composite resin fillings, and glass ionomer. As your teeth erode they become at a greater risk for damage, sensitivity, and decay.

Is there a way to fix my teeth after erosion?

There are several procedures that can assist in strengthening your teeth and as a general dentist, I would be happy to discuss which ones would work best for you during an examination and consultation. If you have experienced tooth sensitivity or if your teeth are brittle or becoming damaged on a frequent basis I recommend that you first stop drinking any soda products, energy drinks, sports drinks, or fruit juices and substitute them for water and milk. Next, I recommend that you visit my office to discuss long-term treatment solutions.

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