Hello, Mobile! Welcome to the ongoing blog of Alabama Family Dental. This is our forum for keeping the great people of Mobile, AL up to date on the oral health care and dentistry issues facing families these days. It is our mission to keep you informed, so that when it comes time to make decisions about the welfare of your family’s oral health, you can do so with the confidence that comes with being in the know.
One of the biggest dental issues facing families is tooth decay. Everyone wants to prevent cavities, but doing so can be tricky, unless you understand the true cause of tooth decay. When asked what the primary cause of tooth decay is, most be will likely put the blame on sugar. After all, we have all been warned against the dangers of eating sugar since we were small children.
True enough, sugar is a major contributor to tooth decay, but it is just that, a contributor. So if your only tactic to prevent tooth decay is to avoid sugar, you are not doing enough. For example, many people drink diet sodas because they do not contain sugar, and they believe that is enough to protect their teeth. However, diet sodas, like all soft drinks, contain high levels of acid, and acid is just as bad for your teeth as sugar.
The True Cause of Tooth Decay
Sugar alone is not the root cause of tooth decay, so in order to best protect yourself and your family from the ravages of tooth decay, you need to understand how it happens. Sugar is not not directly responsible for rotting your teeth. The main culprit is a bacteria called dental caries. This bacteria lives in your mouth and starts affecting your oral health at a young age.
Dental caries feed on sugar, and in the process, convert the sugar to a very corrosive acid. The acid produced by dental caries eating away at your enamel, even though it is the strongest substance in your body.
Food acids, like those found in diet soda are also very hard on your enamel. They soften the enamel protecting your teeth and make it easier for dental caries to damage your teeth.
The Acid in Diet Soda
Diet soda contains high levels of phosphoric acid and citric acid. Both of which are highly corrosive, even though they are found naturally in a number of healthy foods.
Phosphoric Acid – This corrosive acid is so strong that it is commonly used to strip rust from metal. It is also commonly used as a flavor enhancer in diet sodas. As you can imagine, anything that is strong enough to corrode metal is strong enough to damage your teeth. In fact, phosphoric acid may even be worse for your teeth than sugar is.
Besides it corrosive power phosphoric acid also has the unfortunate side effect of blocking your body’s absorption of calcium. Your body uses calcium to remineralize your enamel, which is how it repairs your teeth and keeps them strong. So, not only does phosphoric acid destroy your enamel, it keeps your body from repairing it. It’s almost as if phosphoric acid was designed to ruin your teeth!
Citric Acid – This is another common flavoring used in diet soda. Since diet sodas contain no sugar, manufacturers will often use citric acid to give their drinks that extra kick you’ve come to expect from a carbonated beverage.
Diet sodas are not the only beverages that use citric acid as a flavor enhancer. Take a look at the ingredient list of most fruit juices and sports drink, and you will find citric acid on their somewhere, making this corrosive acid one that is very hard to get away from.
Water to the Rescue!
The misconception that diet soda’s lack of sugar make them somehow a healthy food choice causes a lot of problems and is very dangerous to the health of this country. One of the biggest dangers associated with drinking diet sodas is that it means you are drinking less water, and water is a veritable miracle liquid.
Drinking water will help keep your mouth free of the tooth decay triad of bacteria, sugar, and acid. Not to mention, staying well hydrated is essential for your health. Always carry a bottle of water around with you, so you never have to worry about going thirsty. And if you do treat yourself to the occasional soda, diet or otherwise, be sure to chase it with a big glass of water, and you will erase nearly all the negative effects that come with it.
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