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Soda Or Pop? It's Teeth Trouble By Any Name

Soft drinks have emerged as one of the most significant dietary sources of tooth decay, affecting people of all ages. Acids and acidic sugar byproducts in soft drinks soften tooth enamel, contributing to the formation of cavities.

In extreme cases, softer enamel combined with improper brushing, grinding of the teeth or other conditions can lead to tooth loss.

Sugar-free drinks, which account for only 14 percent of all soft drink consumption, are less harmful1. However, they are acidic and potentially can still cause problems.

We're Drinking More and More

What to Do

Children, adolescents and adults can all benefit from reducing the number of soft drinks they consume, as well as from available oral care therapies. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Substitute different drinks: Stock the refrigerator with beverages containing less sugar and acid such as water, milk and 100 percent fruit juice. Drink them yourself and encourage your kids to do the same.
  • Rinse with water: After consuming a soft drink, flush your mouth with water to remove vestiges of the drink that can prolong exposure of tooth enamel to acids.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse: Fluoride reduces cavities and strengthens tooth enamel, so brush with a fluoride-containing toothpaste such as Colgate® Total®. Rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash also can help. Your dentist can recommend an over-the-counter mouthwash or prescribe a stronger one depending on the severity of the condition. He or she also can prescribe a higher fluoride toothpaste.
  • Get professionally applied fluoride treatment: Your dental hygienist can apply fluoride in the form of a foam, gel or rinse.

Soft drinks are hard on your teeth. By reducing the amount you drink, practicing good oral hygiene, and seeking help from your dentist and hygienist, you can counteract their effect and enjoy better oral health.

1Harnack L, Stang J, Story M. Soft drink consumption among US children and adolescents: Nutritional consequences. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1999;99:436-444.
2Gleason P, Suitor C. Children s diets in the mid 1990s: Dietary intake and its relationship with school meal participation. Alexandria, VA: US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Analysis, Nutrition and Evaluation;2001.
3Brimacombe C. The effect of extensive consumption of soda pop on the permanent dentition: A case report. Northwest Dentistry 2001;80:23-25.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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