48% of Americans drink soda daily, at an average of 2.6 glasses per day. That’s a total of 45 gallons of soda per year! As you can imagine, soda is pretty bad for your teeth, but are certain sodas worse than others? Here we’ll explore why soda is bad for your teeth, which ones are the worst, and options for saving your teeth without giving up the soda.
Soda’s Effect on Teeth
Soda is the largest source of sugar consumption among children and adolescents. However, while sugar is generally more harmful than helpful, that is actually not the main reason that soda is bad for teeth. In addition to the high levels of sugar, soda also contains a lot of acid. This is a problem because acid dissolves tooth enamel, which causes teeth to weaken and become more cavity-prone.
There are two types of acid commonly used in soda: citric acid and phosphoric acid. Citric acid is used mainly in citrus drinks, such as Sprite or Mountain Dew. Phosphoric acid is found in colas, and is typically the more harmful of the two.
The Acidity of Soda
Levels of acidity are measured using the pH scale. The lower the pH number, the more acidic a substance is. A pH of 7.00 is considered neutral.
The following chart shows where popular sodas (and a few other things) fall on the pH scale.
In general, diet sodas tend to be less acidic than their sugary counterparts, but only slightly. The worst offender? RC Cola with a pH of 2.39. Root beer does not contain phosphoric or citric acid, and is therefore the least acidic soft drink with a pH of 4.0.
Solutions for Protecting Your Teeth
Obviously, the best solution would be to cut out soda all together. Even fruit juice, which is still very acidic and contains a lot of added sugar, is better for your teeth than soda. However, if you can’t stay away from the bubbly beverage, try one of these solutions to protect your teeth.
- Drink through a straw to minimize contact with your teeth
- Rinse with water after drinking to wash away any lingering sugar or acid
- Wait a while before brushing your teeth after drinking, or you are just scrubbing the acid into your enamel
- Try one of these alternatives to soda, which are less acidic and healthier in general:
Regardless of what you drink, be sure to consume it in moderation and balance it with plenty of water. Remember to always practice good dental habits like brushing and flossing daily, as doing so will reduce your risk of cavities making for a happier, healthier mouth.