You may think you are making a smart choice swapping regular Coke for Diet Coke, but new research says otherwise. A recent study found that sugar-free drinks, including diet sodas and 100 percent fruit juices, are just as terrible for the teeth as their sugary alternatives. Here, Dr. Ricardo Hernandez of Pacific Beach Smile Studio breaks down the study and explains the implications on your oral health.
What the Study Found About Sugar-Free Drinks and Your Teeth
It is well established that beverages and foods high in sugar are a common cause of tooth decay. However, a team from the University of Melbourne made an interesting discovery. They compared the teeth of people that drank sugary beverages to people that drank sugar-free beverages, and found very little difference in their tooth decay. The consumption of both sugar and sugar-free soft drinks (and flavored waters) led to measurable and comparable loss of tooth surface.
The acidic additives and low pH levels are to blame, explained study co-author Eric Reynolds, a professor and CEO of the Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre. The chemical mix of acids dissolves the hard tissues of the tooth. Early stages of erosion affect the surface layers of tooth enamel; as the erosion advances, it can expose the soft tissues (i.e., pulp) inside the tooth.
What This Means for Your Oral Health
At the very least, it is important to choose beverages that are sugar-free and low in acid. Check the ingredients of your beverage, and avoid drinks that list acidic additives like citric acid and phosphoric acid. In general, limit sodas and sports drinks like Gatorade, and up your intake of water.
If you do imbibe, on occasion, a sugary or acidic beverage, avoid brushing your teeth immediately after — this can strip away the soft tooth layers. Brushing too soon can also spread the acids around in the mouth. Rinse your mouth with a few sips of water and wait an hour before brushing.
Another key component in the fight against dental decay is scheduling regular visits with your dentist. He or she can check for early signs of decay and, if necessary, start treatment intervention immediately. Depending on the extent of damage, treatment may require a dental restoration such as a filling or a dental crown.
Schedule a Visit with Dr. Hernandez
To schedule an appointment with Pacific Beach dentist Ricardo Hernandez and learn more about your oral health, please call 858-272-6047 today.