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How do soft drinks cause tooth decay?

Did you know that some nondiet soft drinks contain as many as 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving? Although there are few studies reported in scientific literature that specifically evaluate the role of soft drinks in the development of tooth decay, increased sugar in the diet increases the risk of decay. There is a positive association between consumption, especially heavy consumption, of sugar-containing soft drinks and risk of developing tooth decay, according to published studies.

Most soft drinks contain phosphoric acid and citric acid. Prolonged exposure to acids can do permanent damage to teeth by producing a condition called "erosion," or the loss of hard tissues from the tooth surface. It is widely accepted that acid in food and beverages plays a major role in the development of enamel erosion. Diet soft drinks rely on nonnutritive sweeteners instead of sugar. They also are acidic and may increase the risk of experiencing enamel erosion, although the research on the role of soft drinks and tooth erosion is preliminary.

Drinking soft drinks can increase your risk of getting tooth decay. Soft drinks contain a lot of sugar. The decay causing plaque uses the sugar to produce acids which eat into the tooth. Over time, a hole develops which is called a cavity. Soft drinks also are very acidic. The acid in the drink can also damage the tooth.

Rita Medwid
Dentist

Soft drinks have phosphoric acid and citric acid, which wear away the enamel of the tooth. Also, Gatorade, sports drinks, and Crystal Light have some forms of acid. The enamel is the hard protective layer, and these drinks cause enamel erosion. Once the enamel is weakened, it is easy for decay to start and continue to damage the tooth. Sipping on a soft drink allows the liquid to swirl around the teeth, especially in any fissures or crevices and start the decay. For non-diet soft drinks, there also is a large amount of sugar, which will lead to decay. If you must have a soft drink, try to drink it with a meal and not for longer than 10 minutes. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.