You might think you’re doing your body a favor by choosing diet soda and avoiding all the sugar that’s packed into other soft drinks, but diet soda can actually be deadly for your smile. Did you know it’s full of acids that can erode your teeth, leading to cavities and decay?
Acid Erosion and Dental Decay
Although diet sodas skimp on sugar, they generally contain just as much acid as regular soda. The most common types of acid found in soft drinks are citric, phosphoric, and carbonic, which reduce the pH of some of the most popular sodas to as low as 2.5 – that’s about the same acidity as vinegar.
According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), highly acidic beverages dissolve tooth enamel, the protective coating that keeps the sensitive interior parts of your teeth safe from the harmful effects of bacteria. Enamel begins to dissolve when the pH drops below 5.5, leading to changes in the appearance of teeth and increased sensitivity. If you regularly consume acidic drinks over a long period of time, your teeth will first lose their bright, white appearance and then gradually become transparent as the acid eats away at the enamel. Once the enamel has been destroyed or weakened, it is easy for bacteria to move in and cause decay, which means fillings and root canal procedures could be in your future.
If you currently experience sensitivity when consuming hot or cold foods and drinks or brushing your teeth, take this as a warning sign! One of the major causes of sensitive teeth is thinning or damaged enamel. See your dentist right away if you experience sensitivity, we also recommend cutting down on your soda consumption.
Making Healthier Choices
Making healthier choices for your teeth involves reducing the sugar in your diet and sticking to non-acidic beverages as much as possible. With a neutral pH of 7, water is the best choice in terms of your oral health. Milk, which has a slightly acidic pH of 6.5, is another good option, especially since it delivers the calcium your body needs to build strong teeth and bones. Although they are a good source of vitamins, fruit juices are often acidic and contain natural sugars, so you should consume them in moderation.
Drinking acidic beverages every once in a while will not destroy your dental health. However, regular and heavy consumption of diet soda can have devastating effects on your teeth. Try to view diet soda as a treat to enjoy occasionally, rather than a daily choice. If you decide to treat yourself to a soda, drink through a straw positioned toward the back of your mouth to protect your front teeth from the effects of the acid. Afterward, rinse with water to restore the pH of your mouth to a more natural level.