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Soft Drinks and Teeth: An up-hill battle

Posted by Dr. Hayden Stewart on 17 December 2018
Soft Drinks and Teeth: An up-hill battle


We're all lovers of soft drinks, whether we admit it or not. Some people like to indulge in a can every week or so, while some people like to have one every night with dinner. While it's no secret that soft drink is detrimental to your oral health, most people don't realise exactly why it is bad for your health. 


A very well-known fact about soft drink is that they have a very high sugar count, with some drinks in Australia having as much as 12.4 grams of sugar per 100ml. With the average recommended adult sugar intake per day sitting at 50g of sugar, this means that 1 can of soft drink (375ml) covers almost an entire days' worth of sugar! However, this doesn't necessarily mean that the average adult can get away with drinking 1 can of soft drink a day. As most food and drinks have additives these days, the average adult can reach the recommended daily sugar intake and even exceed it easily without thinking about it. However, while excessive amounts of sugar are detrimental to your oral health and can lead to tooth decay, it is not the only cause of it.


Many people fall into the trap of believing that substituting soft drinks with their sugar-free alternatives will help them reduce tooth decay. However, experts argue against this popular theory, stating that diet soft drinks cause the same amount of oral damage as regular soft drinks. But why? Carbonation.


Unlike sugar, the carbonation in soft drinks is already acidic before it even makes contact with your mouth. Acidity levels in food and drinks are calculated on the basis of the pH system. The higher the pH, the less acidic the substance. While the sugars in soft drinks cause tooth decay within your mouth, the acids within soft drinks affect your teeth differently. a substance with a pH of 7 is not acidic, while substances with a pH of 5.5 or less will cause your enamel to erode. As seen in the chart below, surprisingly, many every-day substances have a pH level of less than 5.5 and thus, will cause erosion upon contact with your teeth. 



While the best solution is to not consume these drinks, we are all human and like to indulge every now and again. Therefore, the best solution for this is to drink in moderation: Believe it or not, drinking soft drinks through a straw allows the acid to bypass the teeth and cause less erosion. It is also best to drink water after drinking highly sugary / acidic drinks and to wait an hour before brushing your teeth after consumption so as to reduce enamel erosion. If you have any further questions feel free to contact us and arrange a complimentary smile assessment at Brisbane Dental Studio!

Author: Dr. Hayden Stewart

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