Soda, pop, soda pop, or whatever you call it in your neck of the woods is a vastly popular beverage in America today. You probably can’t go to a restaurant anywhere in the US without there being at least a soda or sugary beverage on the menu. According to the CDC, over 60% of adolescents and almost 50% of adults drink at least one soda or sugary beverage per day. That’s a lot of unnecessary sugar consumption that can have a big impact on your health. We’re talking heart disease, weight gain, kidney disease, Type 2 diabetes and more. Of course sugary beverages like soda are also linked to increased tooth decay and cavities. So as we look ahead to 2020, perhaps one of the biggest impacts you can have on your health is to reduce or even cut out your consumption of soda and other sugar sweetened beverages.
How Sugar Attacks Your Teeth
In so many words, drinking soda is like bathing your teeth in a mild acid. It's a less than comforting analogy, but there is no other way around it. In fact there are actually two sources of acid that attack your teeth when you drink soda. The first is a chemical reaction when the bacteria of your teeth are exposed to sugar. The bacteria interacts with the sugar and produces an acid around your teeth as the by-product. Add to this that soda contains its own acid as well, and you're giving your teeth a double dose of harmful substances. These "attacks" can last up to half an hour depending on if you rinse your teeth with water after consuming soda.
As the acid remains on your teeth, it can wear away tooth enamel, which is extremely important for long-term oral health. When enamel is lost, it can lead to tooth decay in the affected areas. Soda acid can also damage the dentin layer in your teeth, and damage to this layer is what leads to cavities. Time is a big factor in this reaction. The more acid your teeth are exposed to, the faster you can expect issues like tooth decay and cavities.
Stemming Bad Habits
Honestly consuming one soda on an off-hand occassion isn't going to cause a great deal of cavities or tooth decay. However regular or habitual consumption of soda and other sugary beverages is another matter. For example if you like to sip on that soda at work all day, your teeth are getting regular exposure to the acids throughout the day as well. Of if you consume several sugary beverages per day, that's a great deal of acid washing over your teeth. There are plenty of people who consume a sugary beverage now and then and still maintain a healthy smile. It's the habitual use that can really get you into trouble. If you believe you're consuming too many sugary beverages, now is the time to cut back. Your doctor and your dentist will thank you for it. Let's look at how to cut back on soda and its sugary cousins.
Moderation And More Tips
Even if you're not quite committed to cutting out soda altogether, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce the impact on your teeth. The first and most obvious is moderation. You should work to never drink more than one sugary beverage a day, and any day where you don't drink any is a bonus that should be reinforced. If you still can't kick the habit, then try to consume your beverage quickly. As we outlined above, slowly drinking a soda throughout the day keeps the acid on your teeth longer. You can also use a straw to minimize exposure to your teeth.
Rinsing with water is your best friend in the fight against sugary drinks and acid. Simply rinsing with water right after you consume a soda can reduce the effects of the acid. While it may seem wise to simply head to the bathroom and brush your teeth right after consuming a sugary beverage, this can actually spell additional trouble. Your teeth are currently recovering from a bout of harmful acid, the last thing you want to do is spread the acid around. Brushing at this stage can also take a toll on the teeth since they are weaker than normal. Instead try to wait an hour before you brush after consuming soda or sugary beverages. This will give your teeth some time to recover, and be sure to rinse with water to accelerate the process. (The same thing goes for fruit juices. It's best to wait an hour before brushing after your teeth are exposed to sugary substances.)
Finally there are some alternatives out there than can still fulfill your need for bubbly drinks without carrying as much of an impact on your teeth. Diet sodas are generally less acidic than their full-strength counterparts, but this isn't an admission to drink 2-3 diet sodas over a full strength cola. Diet sodas are still bad for your teeth and should be consumed in moderation. A better option is that of sparkling water, which is far less acidic than any soda. The best way to tell is to just check on the can. Varieties with zero calories and zero sugar and your best selection. Again, even sparkling water can be mildly acidic, so again please exercise moderation in your consumption.
Final Thoughts - Cut Out Soda
America is in love with soda, it’s true, but this love affair comes at a cost with health conditions like obesiety and type 2 diabetes on the rise. For a healthier choice in 2020, we suggest you cut out soda for both your teeth and your overall general health. While moderation is a great place to start, we encourage you to stop in and discuss more strategies to keep your teeth healthy in 2020. After all, people who consume soda regularly are especially in need of regular checkups, and if you're overdue, now is the time to get an appointment on the books. Contact us today for a friendly, no judgment checkup and routine cleaning at Grace & Leedy Family Dentistry.
Having problems seeing your dentist? Check out our tips on How To Help Someone Go To The Dentist.