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Why Your Smile Prefers Water Over Soft Drinks


  • The average soft drink serving size has tripled since the 1950s.
  • The average person drinks about 45 gallons of soda per year.
  • 7% of adults drink four servings or more per day.
  • At least 20% of children drink four servings or more per day.

Soft drinks are loaded with sugar and empty calories. Consumption has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart problems.

But of major concern to us, as your lifelong oral health partner, is that sugary, carbonated drinks really bully your teeth!

1. The Acids Eat Away At Your Tooth Enamel

Your tooth enamel is strong—the hardest substance in your body, in fact. But the phosphoric acid and citric acid in soft drinks (ironic name for sodas, isn’t it?) is stronger.

2. Carbonated Sugar Is Replacing Calcium-Rich Milk

In 1966, Americans drank more milk (33 gallons/year) than soft drinks (20 gallons/year). Contrast that with 2010, when the average American drank 45 gallons of soft drinks and only 20 gallons of milk.

3. Diet Isn’t Really Better

You can remove sugar from the equation, but the acid is still there! In fact, many sugar-free soft drinks are more acidic than high-sugar ones.

Root beer may be the safest soft drink for your teeth, even though it’s loaded with sugar. Why? Because it’s comparatively low in acid.

4. Constant Sipping Creates A Constant War Zone

Every time you take a sip of a Coke, your mouth becomes an acid-attack zone. It takes your mouth up to 30 minutes to rebalance and create a safe zone for your teeth again. Until then, your teeth ARE losing protective substance, leaving them more vulnerable to cavities, and sensitivity.

5. It’s A Dessert Disguised As A Beverage

Don’t believe us? Here’s the math… One 12 oz can of Coke (the smallest serving available) has 39 grams of sugar, which is more than…

  • 3 snack packs of Chips Ahoy
  • 2 servings of frozen yogurt
  • A whole slice of apple pie WITH ice cream on top.

So, minimize the damage by:

  1. Drinking less! Replace soft drinks with milk, water, even juice.
  2. Drinking it all at once, instead of sipping all day.
  3. Swishing it down with water to clear away the sugar and acidity.

A Fun Little Video Done By 5th Graders For The “Pour It Out” Contest!

What Do YOU Think?

What are YOU doing, if anything, to cut back on beverages that aren’t great for your teeth? Are you trying to drink more water? Any secrets for doing so that you can share with us and with our other patients? Please comment below, or on our Facebook page. We love hearing from you.

Thanks for being our valued patient!


2 responses to "Why Your Smile Prefers Water Over Soft Drinks"

  • Kerry Sheehan says:

    It was good to get a good dental bill of health today and my teeth always feel good after a cleaning.

    I meant to ask you a question and totally forgot. And it really fits in with the “drink more water” theme here. I have an “infusion” water bottle that I can put slices of lemons or limes in the basket and I love it. I’ve gotten to the point where I like lemon water so much that regular water is just boring. My question is… since lemons are acidic, is drinking lemon water bad for my teeth? I know the water just passes on by, but still I’m curious whether I might damage my enamel with all this lemony water I’ve been enjoying?

    P.S. I rarely have to drink soft drinks any more and really don’t miss them much….

  • Dr. Henley says:

    Hi Kerry, great question!

    The problem with fruit juices is that they contain cirtic acid which definitely can and will erode the enamel on our teeth with time and repeated exposure. The surface of our teeth is made up of a mineral called hydroxyapatite. This crystalline-like structure is composed primarily of calcium and phosphorous. Parts of the calcium will undergo an electro-chemical reaction to form calcium citrate and it is this reaction that is what causes the erosion of enamel with regards to fruits high in citric acid. (Sorry for the brief chemistry lesson )

    There have been studies with fruit juices and their effects on teeth mostly using orange juice. Lemon juice is more acidic than orange juice but the process of erosion is about the same. What has not been studied is exactly how much lemon or lime juice is neccessary to cause erosion on teeth? More than likely with a full water bottle diluting the lemon juice you probably have nothing to worry about. The $64,000 question is how much lemon juice would be needed to make water change significantly enough from it’s neutral pH of 7.0 to a more acidic value which would harm teeth?

    Bottom line is this Kerry, you’re probably safe drinking this diluted lemon flavored water but if you wanted to be safe I’d recommend drinking it through a straw. Also I would dilute the juice from the lemons or limes with enough water just enough to where it is “tasty” to drink and no more. Until more research is done that is the what we know. Tooth erosion from acids typically begins on the outer surfaces of the teeth at the junction of the gumline where the enamel is thinnest. Sometimes a noticeable increase in sensitivity to cold and sweets will be noticed but it is important to note that erosion is often symptomless.

    Hope that answers you question.

    Dr. Henley

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