Soda Drinking and Its Effect on Teeth
Soda drinking and its effect on teeth has become a growing concern for dentists (especially
pediatric dentists) nationwide as the consumption of soft drinks by children, and therefore the
potential for dental health issues, has risen dramatically in the last 20 years. Research shows
that teenagers consume the most soda of any age group, with an 1100% increase in soft drink
purchases at schools in the last two decades. With soda drinking statistics like these, knowing
the effects that soft drinks can have on dental health becomes increasingly important for
parents and children alike.
What Damage Can Soda Do to Teeth?
Many sodas, or soft drinks, contain a form of high fructose corn syrup which equates to
approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar per 12 oz. can. This sugar interacts with the mouth’s
bacteria to form an acid that attacks the teeth and weakens the enamel (the hard, protective
outer layer of the teeth). The acid can linger on the surface of the teeth for up to 20 minutes,
and the process is repeated with each sip of soda. Over time, tooth decay and dental cavities
can form as a result.
Sugar content is only one of the potential teeth eroding ingredients in sodas. Both regular and
diet sodas contain high concentrations of acids that can also damage teeth, including:
- Carbonic acid: A byproduct of adding carbon dioxide to water to produce the
carbonation in sodas
- Phosphoric acid: Prevents mold and bacteria from growing and gives soda its tangy
- Citric acid: Added to lemon-lime and other fruit-flavored soft drinks for tartness
All of these acids in sodas can erode tooth enamel, reduce the hardness of the tooth surface,
and cause hypersensitivity. Ultimately, the dentin (the layer beneath the enamel) can become
damaged and susceptible to dental cavities and decay.
Children, whose tooth enamel is not fully developed, are especially at risk for cavities and
enamel erosion due to excessive soda drinking. Colas are also one of the main foods that stain
teeth in children and teens.
Preventing Dental Damage from Soft Drinks
The easiest way to avoid dental damage caused by soft drinks is simply to not drink soda. The
best replacement for soda is water since even juices and sports drinks can be harmful to teeth,
especially if consumed frequently. While an occasional soda most likely won’t damage the
teeth, maintaining good oral health and following these tips can help lessen any negative dental
effects of drinking soda:
- Limit soft drink consumption to 12 oz. per day.
- Drink soda through a straw to minimize its contact with the teeth.
- Do not sip soda throughout the day, as this practice allows sugar to coat the teeth
- Rinse your mouth with water after you drink a soda to help remove any lingering sugar
- Chew sugarless gum containing Xylitol which can help keep teeth healthy.
- Brush and floss your teeth at least twice per day, particularly before bed. Keep in mind
that it is best to wait 30-60 minutes after drinking a soda to brush your teeth, because
the acid in soft drinks leaves teeth vulnerable to friction damage.
- Try to choose soft drinks with lower acid content, such as Root Beer.
- Maintain good oral hygiene by choosing the best toothpaste for your child, eating
healthy to promote strong teeth, and visiting your pediatric dentist regularly for
cleanings and dental fluoride treatments.
If you would like more information on the dental effects of soda drinking or are concerned that
your child may have enamel erosion or tooth decay due to soda drinking, contact our office for
Our pediatric dental team is committed to helping all our patients attain and
enjoy good oral health that will bring a lifetime of smiles.