We are taught from a young age that sugary snacks and drinks can damage our teeth, causing cavities and other dental disasters. In an attempt to avoid the damaging effects of sugar, but still savor the sweet, refreshing satisfaction that comes from a soft drink, many people switch to diet beverages. It might seem like you’re fooling the system, but the fact of the matter is that any type of acidic drink, diet or not, is causing more damage than you might have thought.
A new study by the University of Adelaide in Australia revealed just how damaging acidic drinks can be to teeth. The study, published in the Journal of Dentistry, warned that beverages like soft drinks, sports drinks and fruit juices can cause permanent tooth decay, and that the damage happens much sooner than originally thought.
According to Dr. Sarbin Ranjitkar of the Craniofacial Biology Research Group that conducted the research, the results showed that within the first 30 seconds that acidic liquid contacts teeth, irreversible damage occurs.
Many people tend to think that by simply brushing their teeth after consuming acidic beverages they can avoid problems. However, as the results of this study show, the damage is already done long before you brush.
With more children and teens consuming drinks like soda, energy drinks and sports drinks, dental erosion is a growing concern. As these beverages attack the protective outer enamel layer, teeth are worn down and more susceptible to pain and sensitivity.
“Sugar content, acidity, and carbonation all can cause dental problems by themselves,” says Dr. Thomas P Farris of Dr. Thomas Farris Dental. “When you combine the three, as in many soft drinks and beverages, the detrimental effect on your teeth is multiplied greatly.”
Fortunately, dental erosion is something that can be easily prevented. First and foremost, avoiding acidic beverages is essential to preventing tooth damage. Other preventative measures include rinsing with tap water that contains fluoride after drinking sugary drinks, using a fluoride toothpaste and brushing teeth no more than an hour after consuming a sugary beverage.