Written by: Carlee Linden | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: July 29th, 2020
Why soda is ruining your teeth
Think back to when you were a kid. Do you remember your mom and dad telling you not to drink soda because it was terrible for your teeth? Well, hopefully, you listened because mom and dad were right.
Whether you drink soda, pop, soft drinks, fizzy drinks — whatever you call them — it might be time to evaluate how much of these sugary drinks you're consuming in a day. Mountain Dew Mouth (MDM) is a term that has recently been used by dentists that refers to a form of tooth decay caused by drinking excessive amounts of soda.
Over the years, soda has gained a negative reputation for providing little to no nutrients and a large amount of sugar. Soda has also been linked to some of our nation's biggest health problems, such as obesity and diabetes. Despite warnings from doctors and dentists everywhere, people have continued to drink these sugary drinks.
Now, dentists are seeing a much higher rate of tooth decay across all ages. In fact, cavities and periodontal diseases are among the biggest threats to our oral health. The most likely culprit? Soda. However, Dr. Bobbi Stanley from Stanley Dentistry warns that soda isn't the only offender, "Mountain Dew Mouth can also be caused by just an overall lack of dental hygiene. Since MDM is really just severe tooth decay, not brushing and flossing can also be a culprit."
Processed drinks are filled with carbonated water, sweeteners, and either natural or artificial flavorings. While all these ingredients make for the fizzy, satisfying drink we all know and love, they are also packed with high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice, sugar substitutes (in case you thought you were safe with a diet soda), caffeine, colorings, and preservatives.
Soda also contains phosphoric and carbonic acid, which creates an acidic environment in your mouth, making your teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay.
While Mountain Dew takes on the mantle as one of the worst drinks for your health (mainly due to its extremely high sugar content), all sugary drinks are guilty. Whether you're drinking Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi, energy drinks, or even fruit juice, you're increasing the risk of tooth decay.
So what exactly happens when you drink a can of your favorite soda?
A 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew has 12 teaspoons of sugar and the drink has a pH level around 3.22 (in case you were wondering how acidic that is, battery acid has a pH level of 1).
Dr. Jared Bowyer, DDS explains, “Mountain Dew (and other sodas) contain sugar and acid. The sugar feeds bacteria that live inside your mouth, and when they metabolize the sugar, it creates more acid. Both the acid from the soda and the acid from the bacteria combine to wear down tooth enamel. Symptoms of eroded tooth enamel include sensitivity, pain, and discoloration of your teeth.”
The bacteria lives on a clear, sticky substance on your teeth (maybe you've heard of plaque). As the bacteria in the plaque feeds on the sugars in your food, it forms an acid. This acid then begins to attack your teeth. Every time you take a sip of soda, the acid begins breaking down your tooth enamel.
Kids and teenagers are especially susceptible to tooth decay because their tooth enamel hasn't fully developed.
Now you may be wondering why this is a concern today. I mean, we have some of the most technologically advanced dental procedures. However, recent studies have found that only 30 percent of millennials clean their teeth daily and the average millennial goes more than two days in a row without brushing their teeth.
Why are fewer people visiting the dentist?
Another major concern is that people just aren't going to the dentist. Why?
- 33% say they don't like the taste of the products
- 50% say it's too expensive
- 62% say they are afraid
Consuming an excessive amount of sugary drinks and not getting regular dental check-ups sounds like a recipe for disaster.
How can we stop Mountain Dew Mouth? Dr. Stanley suggests, "The best way to keep MDM at bay is to lay off the soda. Drinking sugary drinks occasionally is okay but it shouldn't be a daily occurrence for anyone."
While quitting soda is the best solution, it's not as easy for some of us. I think the question on everyone's mind is, Do I have to stop drinking soda altogether? Dr. Stanley advises, "When you do drink soda, try using a straw. Straws keep the soda from making as much contact with your teeth, limiting the chance for future decay."
Maintaining good oral hygiene and lowering your consumption of soda is the key to a healthy smile. The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes.
However, simply brushing your teeth isn't enough to keep your mouth in pristine condition, Dr. Bowyer suggests, “Cavities and periodontal disease are serious issues, but they can be easily prevented. Avoid food and drink that can harm your teeth (like soda), brush and floss regularly, and schedule regular checkups with your dentist so that they can identify and prevent dental health problems before they become more serious.” Also, remember to avoid frequent snacking and be sure to maintain a wholesome diet. Doing all these things will help keep your pearly whites healthy and strong.