Soft drinks may erode teeth as badly as drugs

The teeth of a meth user.
The teeth of a meth user.
The mouth of a soda drinker.
The mouth of a soda drinker.

Extreme damage to your teeth is expected from abuse of illegal drugs like methamphetamine or crack cocaine.  However, there is another substance out there that even the most innocent child uses and it can cause just as much damage: soft drinks.

"We see it every day in the office. It's amazing how acidic a soft drink actually is," explained dentist Dr. Julie Vignes.

A new study from the American Dental Academy shows excessive soda drinking can erode teeth as badly as illegal drugs.

The study looked at three subjects. Two were admitted drug users. The third drank at least two liters of diet soda each day.  None saw a dentist regularly, and all had significant and similar tooth decay.  That decay is caused by the acid found in sodas, as well as drugs.

"Anything in excess can damage the teeth as far as acid is concerned. What you don't want is it to sit and stay in the mouth," said Vignes.

This study does not mean that if you drink a coke and your teeth will fall out. However, it is a clear that large amounts of soda can do some serious damage.  That's why it's important to practice good dental hygiene, and maybe switch to water every once in a while.

Vignes also points out that brushing your teeth immediately after consuming soda actually makes the erosion worse.  She says rinsing your mouth with water or eating a piece of sugar free gum can better help to remove the acid in your mouth.

"You actually need to give your teeth 20 minutes to remineralize so they will be strong again before you come in and brush," said Vignes.

If you are suffering from enamel erosion or sensitive teeth, there are several products out there to help strengthen teeth and a dentist can help you pick which one is right for you.

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