The Hard Facts
Here's how you get cavities
- Sugar in pop combines with bacteria in your mouth to form acid.
- Diet or "sugar-free" pop contains its own acid.
- Acid in soft drinks, whether they contain sugar or not, is the primary cause of weakening tooth enamel.
- The acid attacks your teeth. Each acid attack lasts about 20 minutes.
- The acid attack starts over again with every sip.
- Ongoing acid attacks weaken your tooth enamel.
- Bacteria in your mouth cause cavities when tooth enamel is damaged.
- If you have a receding gum line, acid does more damage below the gum
line than above it. This is particularly a concern for adults.
- View a Chart on Sugar & Acid in Soft Drinks
What dentists say about sipping all day
- "I can spot frequent pop drinkers easily by looking at their teeth."
- "I had a 16-year-old patient in with 30 severe cavities. He admitted he
drank two Mountain Dews for breakfast, drank one on the bus, and then
had four to five at school. He figured he drank 10 to 12 pops a day and
said he can't stop."
- "Sweetened soda is to teeth as cigarettes are to lungs."
How to reduce decay
- Drink soft drinks in moderation.
- Don't sip for extended periods of time. Ongoing sipping prolongs sugar and acid attacks on your teeth.
- Use a straw to keep the sugar away from your teeth.
- After drinking, swish your mouth out with water to dilute the sugar.
- Never drink pop or juice before bedtime because the liquid pools in
your mouth and coats your tongue and teeth with sugar and acid.
- Read labels. Regular pop is high in sugar. And diet or "sugar-free" pop
is high in acid. Sugar and acid are bad for your teeth.
- Drink water instead of pop. It has no sugar, no acid and no calories.
- Get regular checkups and cleanings to remove bacteria buildup (plaque). Floss, too.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste to protect your teeth.