Written by NorthLakes Community Clinic, Hayward, WI
Since February is National Dental Health Month it is a good time to discuss how drinking soda and sports drinks can affect our teeth. Did you know that 51 million school hours are lost each year in the U.S. due to dental cavities or dental infections? Poor dental health can negatively impact school or work performance, social skills and self-esteem. Oral hygiene habits are greatly influenced and shaped by those around us every day. Parents, siblings and friends play a critical role in getting children off to a good—or bad—start. Learning healthy habits at an early age can dramatically reduce future dental problems.
One of the biggest contributors to dental cavities is drinking soda pop or sports drinks. The high sugar content in these drinks can cause cavities very quickly, but that is not the only danger. There is also a high amount of acid in soda pop/sports drinks; this can lead to extensive tooth decay and enamel loss.
Enamel is the hardest substance in the body but it is susceptible to breakdown from the acids found in sugary and acidic drinks. The more acidic the drink (the lower its pH), the faster erosion effects will take place. Enamel begins to dissolve below a pH of 5.5.
It is a good idea to limit your consumption of these kinds of drinks. Water is the safest drink and milk should be consumed with meals. Have soda pop or sports drinks in moderation and only on special occasions, and then rinse your mouth out with water after. I would encourage brushing 2 times per day and using dental floss daily to keep your mouth happy and healthy.