Soft drinks : Threat to your teeth

As dentists, we can identify a soft drink eater by the thin, dull, yellow-tinged surface of their front teeth. When we see these telltale signs in teenage customers, our first instinct is to ask, “How much soft drink do you consume?” The answer is usually two to three doses a day.

The consumption of soft drinks has increased many times over, from around 47 liters per capita to 113 liters per year.

Soft drinks contain a mixture of sugar and acid that creates their distinctive bite and taste. This sweet and sour cocktail may captivate the taste buds, but it’s highly caustic on teeth, especially those of children. Young enamel is quite porous and is more easily dissolved by acids than mature enamel.

It is therefore worrying news that a quarter of all two to three year olds consume soft drinks. The amount increased with age to 45 percent for 12- to 15-year-olds and 57 percent for 16- to 18-year-olds.

“Frequent exposure of children’s teeth to acidic beverages dissolves the calcium in tooth enamel and can cause tooth structure to crumble over time.” In addition to causing tooth erosion, soft drinks contribute to tooth decay by supplying sugars to plaque bacteria; about 10 teaspoons in each can. These microorganisms metabolize sugars and produce acids that cause tooth decay (decay).

Not only the acid-sugar mix in drinks is harmful to the teeth; Soft drinks are being drunk in place of tap water and milk, potentially affecting children’s absorption of protective nutrients such as calcium and fluoride.

This change in children’s exposure to risk and protective factors may account for part of the recent increase in dental caries observed in children.

There has been a steady increase in caries in primary school children’s milk teeth and an increase in caries in children’s permanent teeth.

In addition to soft drinks, there are sports drinks that are formulated to increase exercise performance but are drunk as a “good-tasting drink.” Consumers are rushing to these new alternatives. Sales of energy drinks have increased and are most likely around 2-3 times the sales of soft drinks over the same period.

With brand names that exude youthfulness, it’s no surprise that they’ve found their way into teenage diets.

When it comes to teeth, is there a healthier soft drink?

“Energy and sports drinks are often perceived by children and parents as healthier than soft drinks,” but with similar sugar and acid levels, offer no dental or nutritional benefit.

Some sports drinks have slightly lower sugar and acid levels — but their consumption patterns compound the damage. “The problem is that kids tend to sip on them over time, rather than drinking them all at once.” This leaves tooth enamel constantly exposed to acid.

If soft drinks or sports drinks are used to rehydrate a dry mouth, the risk of damage is even greater since there is little saliva to neutralize the acid on the tooth surface.

Some drinks use sugars like glucose and fructose, which were once thought to be safer for teeth than sucrose. However, according to a literature review on soft drinks and dental health published in the Journal of Dentistry, all sugars have virtually the same potential for acid production in dental plaque as sucrose.

Soft drink manufacturers are aware of the poor health record of their products and have launched alternatives. But sugar-free diet sodas are still acidic. “They don’t cause tooth decay, but they do cause tooth erosion”.


  • Reduce the frequency of your soft drinks consumption or STOP it altogether.
  • Make sure the drink is cold to slow down the conversion of sugar to acid.
  • Drink the drink in a short amount of time instead of sipping for hours.
  • Drink through a straw to minimize contact with teeth.
  • Then rinse your mouth out with water.
  • Drink them with meals rather than between meals to encourage saliva production.
  • Wait about 20 minutes after drinking a soft drink (or other acidic beverage) before brushing your teeth. This gives the saliva time to neutralize the acidity. Acid brushed into teeth can cause tooth erosion over time.