Case studies compare soda’s effect on tooth enamel to erosion by drugs

Can't seem to lay off the soda? A new case study report compares tooth damage from abuse of soda to damage from abuse of some illicit drugs.

Overconsumption of acidic carbonated beverages, especially soda, can erode tooth enamel in a manner similar to the abuse of illicit drugs, such as methamphetamine, posits "Dental Erosion Due to Abuse of Illicit Drugs and Acidic Carbonated Beverages," a case study reported in the March/April issue of General Dentistry. The Academy of General Dentistry publishes General Dentistry.

The case study notes that tooth erosion from soda occurs when acid wears away tooth enamel, which is the glossy, protective outside layer of the tooth.

Dr. Mohamed A. Bassiouny, a dentist who was the lead author of the case study, compared damage in the mouths of three individuals. One was a methamphetamine user, one a cocaine user and one an excessive soda consumer. Each participant reported poor oral hygiene and irregular dental visits. The researchers noted that the participants each had the same type and severity of tooth erosion damage.

"Each person experienced severe tooth erosion caused by the high acid levels present in their 'drug' of choice—meth, crack or soda," said Dr. Mohamed. "The citric acid present in both regular and diet soda is known to have a high potential for causing tooth erosion."

The soda abuser reported drinking 2 liters of diet soda each day for three to five years, according to the case study, and hadn't sought dental treatment for two decades.

"The striking similarities found in this study should be a wakeup call to consumers who think that soda—even diet soda—is not harmful to their oral health," Dr. Bassiouny said.

The American Dental Association has resources that explain how nutrition affects oral health on its consumer website

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