Tooth decay is easily one of the biggest oral health concerns among adults these days. Protecting your teeth against the dental caries that cause tooth decay should be fairly easy. It only takes some dedication to oral hygiene and some common sense when making food choices. The problem is there is so much misinformation and misunderstanding about what is healthy or unhealthy, good for your teeth or bad, that common food sense isn’t that common anymore.
That is why we here at the office of Plymouth Dentistry use this blog to try to separate fact from fiction when it comes to your oral health and what to avoid keep your smile bright. With the right information, the people of Plymouth, MI will be able to make healthier choices, confident in the knowledge they are doing their best to ensure the safety of their teeth and gums.
The supposed health benefits of diet soda is a great example of misinformation causing some serious health problems, especially when it comes to tooth decay. The idea that diet sodas are any better for your oral health than regular sodas, simply because they do not contain sugar, is a dangerous misconception based on a wrong-headed idea about how tooth decay occurs.
Sugar Isn’t the Only One to Blame
There is no doubt about it. Sugar causes tooth decay, and avoiding sugary sodas is great way to preserve your oral health. But substituting regular sodas with diet ones is just as bad for your teeth because sugar is not the only thing that causes tooth decay. The other big cavity creator is acid, and diet sodas are loaded with acid.
As strong as your enamel is, it is highly vulnerable to acid, which is the fundamental cause of tooth decay. Dental caries, the bacteria responsible for tooth decay, feed on the sugar you put in your mouth. It doesn’t matter if it’s the synthetic sugar found in sodas or the natural sugar found in fruit, dental caries eat the sugar and excrete a highly corrosive acid that eats through your enamel. That is how a cavity forms. The acid found in food aids in this process by weakening your enamel so that the dental caries do more damage.
The Acid In Diet Soda
There are two main acids commonly found in diet soda, phosphoric acid and citric acid. In fact, these acids are used as flavor enhancers in many different drinks. They are pretty hard to get away from, unless you only drink water.
Phosphoric Acid – There is a common grade school science experiment where the student left a hard boiled eggs soak in a cup of diet soda overnight, roughly eight hours. Usually, by morning the eggshell is gone. It has been eaten away by the phosphoric acid in the diet soda.
This acid is found naturally in many fruits and berries, but in the concentration used is carbonated beverages, it can strip rust from metal. So it is not hard to imagine what this corrosive agent will do to your teeth.
Possibly the worst thing about phosphoric acid, though, is that it inhibits your body’s ability to absorb and process calcium. Typically, your teeth can repair themselves in a process called remineralization, in which calcium and other minerals are used to replace and rebuild enamel that has been damaged by acid. As if it’s not bad enough that your phosphoric acid destroys your enamel, it also actively prevents it from repairing itself.
Citric Acid – The troublesome with citric acid is not just how corrosive it is, but also how pervasive it is. Read the ingredient list of any soda, sports drink, vitamin water, or fruit juice and you will almost certainly find citric acid among the ingredients.
This just goes to show you that the only thing safe to drink all day every day is water. Your health, both oral and general, more or less depends on adequate hydration. Water is so good at protecting your teeth from the causes of tooth decay that drinking a glass of water after a diet soda will negate many of the ill effects.
So you don’t necessarily have to give up drinking diet sodas completely, but you do need to limit them, and to be sure to drink plenty of water to balance out the dangers to your oral health.
Visit Plymouth Dentistry to learn more about how to protect your teeth and to stay healthy. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.