There have been more and more cases of tooth erosion in children (as young as 3 years old!) over the years. The consumption of soft drinks has dramatically increased since the 1950’s when tooth erosion and soft drinks were first linked (Deshpande et al).
The reason tooth erosion has become such a big problem is due to the increased availability of soft drinks as, according to the American Dental Asociation; ‘The number one selling product in US supermarkets is soda.’ This availability reveals the core of our troubles. Children and their parents can access the products readily; some schools even have vending machines selling soda.
Your child’s favorite fizzy beverage is causing them more harm than good! In 2016 a 3-year-old boy was put through the painful ordeal of having 11 tooth extractions, done by Dr.Beaglehole, due to his diet that was high in sugars and acid. You wouldn’t want to put yourself, or your child through such a terrifying ordeal; so ditch those sweet sodas!
What happens when you drink too much soda?
Erosion and Cavities
According to The American Dental Association et al; ‘Sugar-containing soft drinks can be cariogenic, and their low pH can cause erosion in teeth,’ this low pH level is the main reason your teeth are eroding! Many soft drinks contain a low pH, the lower, the worse they are for your teeth. Check out this chart to find out which sodas have the lowest pH levels!
How erosion works- Well, Pennwell Corp state that ‘Erosion starts with enamel surface softening in the early stage, and enamel tissue loss develops progressively with continued erosive challenges.’ Young children’s teeth are made up of soft enamel which is easily eroded, so sodas can badly damage their little teeth. Avoid giving them fizzy drinks as much as possible!
Damaged tissue and weakened enamel is not reversible so the fact that tooth erosion is widely found in adolescents is a worrying fact. These adolescents will have to live with their eroded teeth for the rest of their lives which can cause more unwanted cavities and visits to the dentist.
Cavities are ‘holes in the tooth surface…if left untreated, cavities can get bigger. They can even destroy the tooth‘ states Oral-B. The following video will give you a bit more information on what soda is and how it affects your teeth!
Does It Affect Adults?
Yes! Adults can be severely affected by low pH levels in fizzy drinks; their teeth are made of the same substances as children’s teeth except the enamel is a little bit stronger.
A study among low-income adults revealed that a majority of their daily energy intake came from consuming different fizzy drinks which, when linked to ‘poor oral hygiene, associates with higher [cavity] levels.’
What other health problems can soda cause?
Considering that The American Heart Association (AHA) ‘recommends a maximum daily intake of six teaspoons of added sugars for women and nine teaspoons for men‘ yet an average can of soda contains just of 9 teaspoons of sugar already shows the problem behind over-consumption of fizzy drinks.
By consuming more than your average daily intake of sugars through drinking just one can of soda you could be seriously at risk to type 2 diabetes and obesity (which has a myriad of health problems related to it). Ordinary soda isn’t the only unhealthy carbonated drink; diet soda can be equally as bad for you!
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; ‘The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period‘. This increase in obesity directly correlates to increased consumption of soda which is high in calories and sugars!
Solving The Problem
To prevent tooth erosion and increased risk of cavities, there are many things we can do for ourselves and our children. Take a look at the list below for clues on what to do.
Catch it early! Make sure you go for regular check-ups with your dentist and take the kids too! Detecting tooth erosion or cavities early is the best way to prevent it getting worse. Your dentist will then recommend many of the following ways to avoid further problems.
Cut out the fizzy drinks- considering all of the information written above about how soda drinks are affecting your teeth, causing premature erosion and cavities then it’s a good idea to flush out the fizzies! Try and prohibit your child from buying the drinks and do not encourage them to consume them at home.
Do not brush your teeth directly after drinking acidic beverages/ food! This can cause excess erosion to your teeth, further damaging the enamel. Wait about 30 minutes before brushing.
Consume a product high in calcium (but low in acidity), such as organic milk, broccoli or kale, after eating or drinking acidic food items. This helps balance out your mouth’s pH levels, allowing your teeth to heal themselves after being attacked by acid.
Avoid ‘frothing’; a way of moving the drink between your teeth and sipping canned drinks slowly. By using a straw or any other method of drinking that will prevent the soda from touching your teeth can help reduce erosion. (Of course the best thing to do is to avoid sodas altogether!)
Tooth erosion is inevitable at some part of your life, however, cutting down on highly acidic food and drinks is a great start to decreasing the problems associated with them. And don’t forget! Children can be profoundly affected too, so encourage them to avoid soda and catch any erosion early!