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How to Stop Drinking Soda: Six Ways To Kick Your Soda Habit and Improve Your Oral Health

Published date field Last Updated:

Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Sodas are packed with sugar and acids, which can damage your teeth. One soda a day can also add up to almost 1,000 extra calories per week, contributing to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Soda can be an indulgent treat, but it can harm oral health and wellbeing. Learn why soda can damage your teeth and our tips for quitting soda.

Why Is Soda Bad For Your Teeth?

Soft drinks have been linked to tooth decay for people of all ages. The acids and acidic sugar ingredients in soft drinks can soften tooth enamel, contributing to cavities. In extreme cases, if the enamel damage does not get treated, grinding of the teeth or other conditions can lead to tooth loss.

When you consume sugary soft drinks, the sugar coats the teeth and feeds the bacteria that live in your mouth. This results in acid production, which can damage tooth enamel, so the fewer sugar-sweetened beverages (like soda) you consume, the better it is for your mouth. However, sugar-free drinks aren't perfect, either. Even if a soda doesn't have sugar, it can contain those acidic ingredients that damage enamel.

How To Stop Drinking Soft Drinks

If you want to take a step toward a healthier lifestyle, quitting soda drinking doesn't have to be painful! You can take several small steps to beat the habit, leading to a healthier smile and less sugar in your diet.

  1. Start Small
  2. Like any habit, quitting cold turkey isn't as successful as gradual progress. Setting ambitious or unrealistic goals can lead to shame and bigger indulgences when you slip short of your goal. Instead, set small, incremental goals that are challenging yet reachable. If you're a daily soda drinker, set a goal to drink soda only 2-3 times a week. When you reach that goal, set a goal for a week, and so on. As you set and achieve these goals, you'll have the confidence and willpower to make bigger ones – and you'll gradually lose the craving.

  3. Swap soda for sparkling water
  4. If it's the carbonation you crave, swap out your soda for sparkling water instead. These refreshing and bubbly drinks don't have the acidic ingredients or sugar to wear down your tooth enamel. And no calories! Sparkling water or seltzers can be an acquired taste, but they can satisfy those carbonation cravings.

  5. Add flavor to your water
  6. Perhaps sipping plain water doesn't sound appealing. Fortunately, there are many options for flavors. You can purchase pre-flavored water on the shelf; watch for sugar, calories, and acidic ingredients! Or you can infuse water yourself. Slice up cucumbers and lemons, and infuse them in a pitcher of water in your fridge. You can also add herbs like rosemary, citrus fruits, or berries.

  7. Switch to green tea
  8. If you rely on your daily sodas for caffeine, quitting soda may be difficult and lead to headaches and tiredness. But you don't have to ditch caffeine when you ditch the soda. You should try green tea! Green tea is packed with antioxidants and has up to 28 mg of caffeine, compared to soda's 22 mg. Also, by drinking unsweetened green tea, you won't have the typical sugar crash.

  9. Avoid triggers
  10. Breaking any habit can be difficult. Be mindful of when and where you tend to drink soda. If you always grab a soda at the gas station when you fill up, perhaps pay at the pump instead to avoid the temptation. If you always choose soda at a restaurant, order ahead, take your food to-go, or ask for your date to order water for you, so you don't order soda by habit.

    If you feel a craving, reach for better options like sparkling water or green tea.

  11. Use fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse
  12. Fluoride can reduce cavities and strengthen tooth enamel, so brushing with a fluoride-containing toothpaste reduces soda's effects. If you indulge in a sip of soda, promptly rinse your mouth with water or a mouthwash to remove traces of the drink that can prolong tooth enamel exposure to acids. Rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash can also help. Talk to your dental hygienist at your next appointment and ask them for recommendations on fluoride dental products.

    Quitting soda can be difficult, especially if you have been drinking soda daily for years. But understanding how soda can damage your teeth and health and knowing these tips for quitting soda can set you in a new, healthy direction.

  13. Swap for Sparkling
  14. If it's the carbonation you crave, swap out your soda for sparkling mineral water instead. You'll still get the tingling sensation of carbonated soda, only without all the sugar and calories. It might take a few tries to acquire a taste for sparkling water, but it's worth a try if you prefer the consistency.

  15. Flavor Your Water
  16. Think plain water is too boring to drink? It may be the flavor you're after. By flavoring your water with fruits, vegetables and even herbs, you jazz up your usual aqua so you want to drink it. Try slicing a few cucumbers and adding them to your water, or mix up lemon slices and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary for a bright, savory water. Citrus works well as a water additive due to its naturally strong flavor.

  17. Switch to Green Tea for Caffeine
  18. Drinking soda may simply account for your daily caffeine in the morning, and giving it up can result in a few tired afternoons. But you don't have to ditch caffeine altogether. Instead, brew a cup of green tea: It's packed with antioxidants. You might even find that green tea doesn't make you as jittery as soda or diet soda due to their respective sugars.

  19. Avoid Triggers
  20. If you're always filling up a cup of soda at the gas station, opt to pay at the pump so you're less likely to buy a beverage. Knowing your triggers, like an afternoon slump or going out to eat, keeps you aware of the situations that spark the craving so you can teach yourself how to avoid that trigger altogether.

    If you feel a craving coming on, decide its place to stop yourself from reaching for a soda. Pop a piece of gum in your mouth, for instance, or use a mouthwash. The minty flavor will remind you to avoid sugary drinks while making soda taste bitter, so you're less likely to drink up at a point of craving.

Does Your Drinking Method Matter?

How you consume a beverage might influence how sugars and acids interact with your teeth. Taking long sips and holding a drink in the mouth is most likely to lead to the greatest drop in pH. A lower pH indicates a more acidic environment, which increases your risk for erosion. Gulping the beverage, on the other hand, leads to a smaller drop in pH.

Using a straw to drink a sugary beverage might also help lower your risk of decay or erosion. It all depends on if the liquid comes in direct contact with your teeth out of the straw. Positioning the straw so that it's at the back of the mouth may help to reduce erosion risk.

Making the switch from a daily soda habit might be difficult, especially if it's a habit you've indulged in for years. But understanding the risk sugary drinks pose to your teeth should be enough to motivate you to learn how to stop drinking soda and take up a healthier choice. Your smile (and maybe even your waistline) will thank you!

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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