According to the World Health Organization (WHO), free sugar consumption is the primary dietary risk factor for tooth decay and cavities. Together, the combination of sugar and the natural bacteria in our mouth produce acid that causes demineralization of the tooth. Because diet soda takes sugar out of the equation, it might seem like a healthier alternative to regular soda. However, these products can still do quite a number on our teeth in the form of dental erosion.
Diet Soda Increases the Risk of Dental Erosion
Instead of sugar, diet sodas contain greater amounts of acid, including citric acid, phosphoric acid, and tartaric acid. While it’s easy to assume that darker-colored sodas like Coke might be the worst offenders, Sprite, Mountain Dew, and other citrusy sodas that contain greater amounts of acid can actually be just as bad. Unfortunately, our teeth aren’t designed to handle high levels of acidity. After taking a swig of diet soda, these acids proceed to break down tooth enamel for as long as 20 minutes after the fact. For routine diet-soda drinkers, that’s a lot of damage for enamel to take on each and every day, eventually leading to dental erosion. Because our enamel serves as a barrier between our environment and the innermost part of the tooth, the deterioration of this barrier through dental erosion can lead to tooth sensitivity. This can cause significant discomfort when eating hot or cold food items, as well as increase one’s risk for cavities.
Limiting soda consumption is one of the best ways to keep our tooth enamel strong and healthy. However, we all want to treat ourselves every now and again. To minimize the damage, use a straw when drinking diet soda to minimize direct exposure to one’s teeth. Additionally, it’s better to finish your beverage all at once rather than sipping on it continuously throughout the day.