Soft Drinks and Your Health

Soft Drinks and Your HealthSodas and Your Health

A can of soda seems such a harmless treat.  After all it’s not like eating sticky candy or chewing gum loaded with sugar, right?  Wrong!  Any dentist will advise you that drinking sodas is one of the easiest ways to damage your health.

– Image Courtesy of Flickr – janineomg

Soda drinking can be an addictive habit that can wreck your oral health, especially in the case of colas and other full sugar products.  New horror stories about the effects of drinking soda emerge all the time.  Some of these effects are concerned with weight gain as obesity levels continue to climb in the US.  Soda addicts will make a cursory attempt to cut down by switching to sugar-free drinks but even these have harmful ingredients that could seriously damage your general health and also your teeth and gums.

The Health Drink Myth

One of the most misleading aspects of food labelling is the use of the word ‘health’ on cans and bottles of soda.  ‘Health drink’; ‘Energy health drink’; ‘For your health’: all phrases that appear indiscriminately on a range of items to describe contents that are far from healthy.

‘Low calorie’ or ‘Diet’ drinks can be every bit as harmful to general health and also to teeth and gums for a number of reasons.

As damaging as sugar can be to oral health, acid is a destructive element that causes the teeth to be stripped of protective enamel.  The erosion takes place throughout the entire mouth, affecting all of the teeth at the same time in a bath of acidic fluid.  Not good!  The result is discoloration, cracking and extreme sensitivity of the teeth to the point where they cannot be cleaned without a sedative.

The Destructive Ingredient

Fruit juice acid is known to be bad for teeth and dentists advise their patients to clean thoroughly after consuming breakfast juice.  However, in a 2008 nutrition research study by the College of Dentistry at the University of Iowa, human teeth were soaked in various drinks, including high energy products such as Gatorade and Red Bull for 25 hours.

The teeth were significantly more damaged as a result of being immersed in these drinks than they were after being soaked in fruit juice.  Citric acid is added to such products to give them that tart, refreshing taste.  It is this ‘zing’ that destroys teeth and condemns consumers to a lifetime of dental problems.

Taking Care of the Kids

The public are becoming more aware of the importance of preventing obesity in children and teaching them the right habits.  Many children in the US consume around 1200 calories per day in soft drinks before they even eat a single bite!  Unfortunately, many well-meaning Moms turn their kids toward low calorie sodas, thinking they are a lesser evil than full sugar items.

The results are disastrous for kids’ teeth and gums.  They are left with eroded, pitted teeth on an unstable gum structure: the baby teeth fall out early or worse, have to be extracted due to decay.   Corrections of this can be handled without stress by a sedation dentist, but you’ll want to consider whether it is worth it.   Damage can be extensive enough that dental implants may be needed.  Well, is it worth it Mom!  Give children natural drinks; plenty of water; a disciplined cleaning routine from babyhood onward; regular dental check-ups…

Older Patients

Many older patients (and some young ones too) have invested in costly dental prosthetics and take scrupulous care to ensure they are cleaned morning and night.  What they do not realize is that the sodas drenching their teeth are eating into the surface coating of their expensive crowns and bridgework, leaving a trail of destruction!  The life of a set of fabulous veneers can be halved by acidic erosion, so take care what you drink – it could cost you your teeth!