To prevent serious dental health issues there is most to do than just brush and floss twice a day. You also need to consider what food and beverages you are consuming. Soft drinks have become a staple in most people’s lives with their sweet taste and carbonated fizz. While enjoying a cold soda or a beverage mixed with soda can help wash away the day’s troubles, it could also be washing away your enamel.
Below, we explore the effects various foods and drinks can have on your teeth, gums, and oral cavity.
Understanding the Hidden Dangers of Acid and Sugar in Soda Drinks
Most soft drinks owe their tangy flavour and preservation qualities to a cocktail of acids including citric acid, phosphoric acid and carbonic acid. The problem with these acids is that they weaken tooth enamel and promote the growth of bacteria that could lead to tooth decay.
In addition, the sugars found in sodas feed cavity-forming bacteria. As bacteria digest these sugars, they produce acids which intensify the attack on tooth enamel. Even diet drinks or “sugar-free” sodas can have devastating effects on your tooth enamel. Drinks with artificial sweeteners contain the same tooth-damaging acids, reinforcing the idea that "diet" doesn't equal "safe for teeth."
- Citric Acid: Commonly found in citrus-flavoured sodas, citric acid is added to soft drinks as a flavour enhancer and preservative. It quickly binds to calcium within the teeth and draws it out as it wears away the enamel.
- Phosphoric Acid: Prevalent in colas, phosphoric acid is a colourless and odourless acid that gives tartness to drinks and extends the shelf-life of soda. This acid can damage the enamel of your teeth.
- Carbonic Acid: Carbonic acid forms when water and CO2 react to create that signature carbonation that we all know and love. It adversely reacts to the natural minerals in your teeth, reducing and removing the protective coating on your teeth.
The Devastating Impact: Tooth Decay and Erosion
Naturally forming healthy bacteria is necessary for your oral health. The problem is when this “good” bacteria reacts with the acidity in certain foods and beverages, thus damaging the protective enamel on your teeth.
Stages of Tooth Decay from Enamel Erosion to Cavity Formation
- Erosion's Whisper: The surface of your tooth enamel begins to lose its battle against acids without you ever noticing. A dentist can recognize the early stages of tooth decay and erosion by checking the softness of your teeth’s enamel and noting changes on your x-rays.
- The Cavity Creeps In: Once the enamel is weakened the underlayer of the tooth, known as the dentin, begins to weaken and will be susceptible to cavities.
- Painful Puncture: Dentin decay occurs fast as dentin is a soft tissue and nerve exposure to harmful bacteria and acid causes sensitivity and pain.
- Pulp Panic: The nerves are located within the pulp of the tooth, which is the centre portion of a tooth. As decay begins to set in, swelling and irritation of the surrounding nerve and blood vessels can lead to extreme pain.
The Impact of Neglecting Soda-Induced Tooth Damage
What happens if you ignore the tooth damage caused by soda and sugary beverages?
- Severe Pain and Infection: The aftermath of constant soda consumption can range from persistent, severe pain to threatening infections within the root canal that can spread beyond the mouth.
- Gum Disease: Sugar and acid can settle into the gumline and cause irritation and infection, known as periodontal disease. This can result in bleeding, swollen and painful gums.
- Jawbone Deterioration: Within the jawline, the alveolar bone which anchors the teeth, receives less movement when there are fewer teeth. This decline in movement forces the jawbone to slowly deteriorate.
- Other Health Issues: Consumption of sugary drinks has also been linked to numerous health issues beyond dental health. These health conditions include but are not limited to, unstable blood sugar levels, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Treating Tooth Decay Caused by Soft Drinks
Thankfully, dental science offers solutions for those facing the consequences of soda consumption and can help restore your dental health.
- Dental Fillings: Fillings are commonly applied as an effective treatment for tooth decay.
- Crowns or Inlays: Dental crowns are used to protect the remaining portion of the tooth affected by tooth decay when a large amount of tooth has been damaged.
- Root Canal Therapy: Once the decay reaches a stage where the tooth pulp requires attention, a root canal treatment is done.
- Dental Cleaning: Using proper dental equipment, a dentist or hygienist can remove the tartar, plaque and harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay.
- Pain Management: Professional dental treatments offer a variety of pain management options such as prescribed medications and over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Tips to Protect Your Tooth and Shield Your Smile
Prevention trumps cure. Below are some preventative measures you can take to dramatically lower your risks of tooth decay.
- Limit Soda Consumption: Protecting your smile and teeth doesn’t mean you can never have soda again. Enjoy your favourite carbonated drink in moderation by limiting your consumption and restricting it to meal times.
- Choose Water, Unsweetened Tea or Milk: Drinking water, milk or unsweetened tea can help to wash away food particles and bacteria that form on your teeth without the risk of harming the enamel of the tooth.
- Brush and Floss Regularly: Brushing and flossing twice a day is vital to good teeth and gum health. Remember not to brush until at least 30 minutes after consuming sugary drinks or any meal.
- Use Fluoride Toothpaste and Mouthwash: Rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash gives the teeth extra protection and using fluoride toothpaste can help strengthen the enamel.
- Schedule Regular Dental Checkups and Cleanings: Only professional dental services can help protect the teeth and mouth from plaque and tartar buildup that can lead to tooth decay by identifying potential issues.
- Start Healthy Dental Habits Early in Life: A balanced diet of foods full of calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and other essential minerals and vitamins can be a good start.
Visit Princeview Dental in Etobicoke for Dental Treatments
Awareness is the first step towards making better choices for your dental and general health. Acknowledge the reality of sodas' effects and embrace a lifestyle that prioritizes oral care.
Princeview Dental Group offers a wide range of compassionate dental care plans from routine checkups, to cosmetic dentistry services, dental appliances and dental emergency services to help keep your teeth in top shape when a large amount of tooth has been damaged.
To help reduce the risk of tooth decay, contact us to schedule a consultation or emergency appointment.