Diet Soda – Is it Really Better for You?

How many of you have gotten into that age old argument about whether Diet Coke is better than regular Coke? The general assumption people have about diet sodas as a whole is that they must be better for you due to the lower sugar content, and for some they even taste better. Would you be surprised to find that Diet Coke and regular Coke are about equally as bad for your teeth?

Sodas, when consumed, are like signing a death warrant for your teeth. Not only are you bombarding your teeth with high contents of sugar every time you take a sip, but the carbonic acid present in every brand and type of soda attacks tooth enamel and wears it down much faster than if drinking water or milk.  Over time this can cause damage that may require fillings, root canals, dental crowns, dental implants, dentures or other cosmetic dentistry procedures to correct.

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Photo credit: Flicker/Niall Kennedy

A common misconception about sodas across the board is that the carbonation in a soda will actually burn off the plaque and bacteria on the teeth and the sugar is the culprit for all soda related cavities. The truth is that the pH of the carbonic acid actually does much more harm, and really no good. Based on research conducted by the Minnesota Dental Association, the Missouri Dental Association, and the University of Cincinnati Biology Department, the pH of a regular Coke drink is at 2.63, highly acidic. The pH of the highly coveted Diet Coke? Almost as bad at 3.39.

Our mouths are slightly more acidic than neutral, for those who haven’t seen a pH scale in a while. We measure the pH of a liquid using water as the neutral pH, at 7.00. From there, the lower pH numbers are more acidic, and higher pH numbers such as Clorox and other household cleaners are more basic. Tooth enamel is relatively safe while we eat and drink until the acidity of the drink falls lower than a pH of 5.2, when it begins to dissolve. So drinking an entire two liter of Diet Coke to save your teeth from the horrors of regular Coke really isn’t making a huge difference on your teeth at all.

Like anything else, drinking Coke or Diet Coke for that matter in moderation won’t dissolve your teeth away as long as you are taking care of your teeth in the process. Brushing right after a can of soda isn’t a great idea, using a toothbrush right after consuming acidic foods or drinks can actually increase the chance of enamel erosion. Avoid brushing for 60 minutes after consuming soda. Dr. Dan Matthews, Austin cosmetic dentist, suggests rinsing your mouth with water or drinking some milk to neutralize the carbonic acid to help the health and longevity of your teeth. Your best bet is to use fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth 30 minutes before consuming acidic beverages or foods. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to substitute water as your drink of choice, which can also help with other possible health problems such as severe dehydration that can eventually occur with only drinking soda.

If you want to learn more about the dangers of soda to your teeth, or you have some cavities to get taken care of, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Dan Matthews or any of our team at our dental office in Austin or book an appointment with our online form.

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