Most people are surprised to know that acidic beverages like soda and sports drinks (just to name a few) can damage tooth enamel and accelerate tooth decay, especially when sports drinks are marketed to us as “health” drinks.
Even if you do decide to kick your soda habit, did you know that many acidic foods are good for you? Citrus fruits like oranges are especially good for the teeth and mouth with their high levels of Vitamin C. But the acid in even good-for-you foods and drinks still does damage to the teeth.
How to minimize erosion to your teeth after drinking soda
Space it out.
Space the consumption of acidic foods out over the course of a day or a week, so that your teeth aren’t getting an “acid blast” all at once.
Know the pH of your everyday beverage.
It’s better to drink a beverage that is neutral to slightly alkaline.
The best pH for the mouth is neutral or slightly higher than neutral pH. This pH in the mouth makes it less hospitable for the bacteria that cause cavities.
Cut back on soda consumption.
Of course, cutting back on acidic drinks is the best thing you can do, not only for your teeth, but for your body as well. Coke, Vitamin Water, Red Bull, Sprite, Pepsi, and Gatorade are all full of empty calories and sugar – which, ironically, is counterproductive if you’re drinking “energy” or “sports” drinks for the benefits that they tout.
A fantastic sports drink alternative is coconut water, which is high in electrolytes (perfect for replenishing nutrients to the muscles) and great for your teeth as well. As for soda, if you’re craving sugar, why not indulge in a homemade full-calorie, delicious brownie? I have a sweet tooth myself and find it better to indulge these cravings with real food rather than processed, acidic toxins.
Keep water nearby.
Sip water while eating or drinking acidic foods and beverages. Rinsing your mouth with water can be a very effective way of neutralizing acid.
Limit the frequency.
Swallow acidic beverages quickly to limit the time your teeth are exposed to the acid. Frequency, not quantity is key in tooth erosion, meaning that it’s not how much you drink but how often you expose your teeth to the acid. If you have a craving for soda, you might want to drink it all at once rather than sip it over the course of the whole day.
Wait an hour to brush after drinking soda.
This part is very important: your enamel remains soft for a while after you eat or drink something acidic. Waiting at least an hour before you brush is safest for your teeth.
Mark Burhenne DDS