Diet fizzy drinks, 100-percent citrus fruit juices and other sugar free drinks can be surprisingly bad for your teeth. Most people know that drinking sugary drinks can cause tooth decay, but another cause of cavities is the dental erosion that occurs when teeth are exposed to acid. Phosphoric acid, citric acid and tartaric acid are some of the ingredients in diet fizzy drinks and fruit juices that damage teeth, but you can reduce the effects of acidic drinks by taking these precautions.
Although they often contain no sugar, diet fizzy drinks usually cause about the same amount of dental erosion as regular sodas. Exposure to citric juices has a similar effect on teeth. A number of researchers have found that drinking orange juice decreased tooth enamel’s hardness by 84 percent, and markedly increased its roughness. The acid in lemon and lime juice is almost as corrosive as battery acid!
Sticking to beverages that are low in acid keep your teeth from wearing, ultimately protecting them from becoming sensitive. Tap water has the least effect on teeth, followed by black tea and coffee. Milk is another tooth-friendly drink; Tufts Now suggests drinking milk is safe because it helps saliva return to a neutral pH.
Protecting Your Teeth
Sugar free drinks such as colas, sports drinks, pure orange juice and wine may cause dental erosion, but you can help protect your teeth. Brushing your teeth twice a day with a thorough fluoride toothpaste such as Colgate® Cavity Protection helps limit the effect these beverages have on your teeth, but wait a while before brushing. According to Caries Research, cited in Tufts Now, it takes 30 minutes to an hour for saliva to return the mouth to a neutral pH, and brushing before this time can actually spread these acids.
The best time for drinking sugar free drinks is with meals, and continuously sipping outside of mealtimes is the worst way to indulge. Drink through a straw to minimize contact with your teeth, and then drink some plain milk or water to help neutralise the acid. And although you shouldn’t snack between meals so saliva can have time to neutralize the acid, eating cheese is helpful because it helps do this itself.
Cutting down on your sugar intake might reduce your waistline and reduce bacteria, but isn’t always good for your enamel. Acids are listed on drink ingredients, so check the label before you buy. Wising up about the effects of sugar free drinks can end up saving your teeth and your smile.