It’s no secret there exists a strong link between soda consumption and tooth decay. Heavy soda consumption has also been linked to other health complications including diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis.
During the past generation, milk intakes have decreased while soda pop and 100 percent juice intakes have increased. It has become a daily habit for a growing number of people, especially kids, teens and young adults. A steady consumption of soft drinks is one of the leading causes of tooth decay.
However, measures can be taken to prevent and reduce tooth decay. The conclusions of a recent study support contemporary daily dietary guidelines for children that include:
- Consuming two or more servings of dairy foods
- Limiting the intake of 100 percent juice to four to six ounces
- Restricting other sugared beverages to occasional use
This doesn’t mean a person should never drink soda. In fact, drinking it in moderation may represent no harm at all. However, substituting sugary, acidic carbonated beverages for water or intake of caloric food could be problematic in the long run.
The “Sip All Day, Get Decay” slogan isn’t just meant to be a catchy tagline – it’s literally the truth!
Sugar in soda combines with bacteria in your mouth to form acid, which attacks the teeth. Diet or “sugar-free” soda contains its own acid, which also can damage teeth. Each attack lasts about 20 minutes and starts over with every sip of soda you take.
These ongoing acid attacks weaken tooth enamel. Kids and teens are most susceptible to tooth decay because their tooth enamel is not fully developed.
You can avoid tooth decay and other health problems that arise from drinking too many soft drinks, other carbonated beverages, sports drinks, iced and sweet teas and other sweetened liquids (like fruit juices). Limiting your intake, brushing and flossing twice a day and visiting your dentist regularly will reduce your risk of tooth decay improve and/or maintain your oral health.
Staying properly hydrated is critical to overall health – and some beverages are better suited for this than others. Most soft drinks contain sugar and caffeine which can actually SPEED UP dehydration.
While drinking sports drinks may keep your body hydrated, the ones with sugar also can unfortunately cause cavities. In addition, non-cola sodas, lemonade and sports drinks can cause significant damage to your teeth enamel, which can lead to tooth decay.
Did you know lack of water is the number one trigger for daytime fatigue? So next time you feel tired at work or school, don’t reach for a caffeinated beverage, drink water. It’s good for your body and won’t damage your teeth like soda and other caffeinated beverages.
- Drink soda in moderation (no more than one 12 oz can a day)
- Use a straw to keep the sugar away from your teeth
- Swish your mouth out with water after drinking to dilute the acid and sugar if brushing your teeth is not possible.
- Drink plenty of water (8 glasses a day)
- Sip for extended periods of time
- Drink soda shortly before bedtime
- Brush after meals – wait at least an hour after your last drink or meal before brushing
- Substitute soft drinks, sports drinks or fruit juice for a meal.
Other tips for maintaining a healthy smile:
- Chew sugarless gum
- Visit your dentist regularly
- Brush and floss daily
- Drink fluoridated water and use a fluoride toothpaste
- Read the labels for sugar content
Educate your patients about the dangers of excessive soft drink sipping. The following materials are available for purchase:
Brochure (available in English, Spanish, Hmong and Vietnamese)
- Explains the negative effects of sugar and acid on teeth
- Compares acid and sugar levels of more than 20 popular beverages
- Tells how to reduce decay
- Includes hard facts about soft drinks – regular and diet
Stickers and magnets
Measures 3 1/2″ in diameter.
Measures 8 1/2″ x 11″. Shows graphic picture of 16-year-old’s decayed teeth as a result of excessive soft drink sipping. Explains how soft drinks cause cavities.
Measures 17″ x 22″. Pile of empty pop cans with “Sip All Day, Get Decay” heading and picture of decayed teeth. Explains how a steady diet of soda can ruin one’s teeth.
Visit The Dental Record’s website or call 800-243-4675 to place an order.
1. Borrud, L., Ennus, C.W. & S. Mickle (1996). What we eat in America: USDA surveys food consumption changes. Food Review, 19, 14-19.
2. Guenther, P.M. (1986). Beverages in the diets of American teenagers. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 86, 493-499.
3. Cavadini, C., Siega-Riz, A.M. & B.M. Popkin (2000). US adolescent food intake trends from 1965-1996. Archives of Disease Childhood, 83, 18-24.
4. Marshall, T.A., Levy, S.M., Broffitt, B., Warren, J.J., Eichenberger-Gilmore, J.M., Burns, T.L. & P.J. Stumbo (2003). Dental caries and beverage consumption in young children. Pediatrics, 112, 184-191.
5. Bassiouny, M.A. & J. Yang (2005). Influence of drinking patterns of carbonated beverages on dental erosion. General Dentistry, 53, 205-210.