Everybody knows that sports drinks and soda contain a lot of sugar, but it’s easy to overlook how much they contain. While a 12-ounce soda used to be the norm, 20-ounce bottles are now considered standard. For example, if a nutritional label shows 31 grams of sugar per serving and the bottle has a total of 2.5 servings, you will be consuming 77.5 grams of sugar (19 teaspoons).
How cavities form
The bacteria that cause cavities use sugar for energy and produce acidic waste that ultimately causes enamel to dissolve. Syrupy drinks provide an ideal power source to keep this population thriving while instigating an insulin spike in the bloodstream. The colossal sugar load also drives the liver to convert sugar into fat. Chronically elevated insulin creates insulin resistance, a condition that contributes to a range of diseases. Sugared drinks help fuel many of the health problems afflicting people today.
An acid problem
The normal pH of your mouth rests around 7 (neutral). Tooth structure begins to erode when the acidity drops to 5.5. Soda can send the pH of the mouth into a nosedive, making the mouth 1000 times more acidic than needed to start damaging teeth. A review of many ingredient labels shows citric, phosphoric, and carbonic acids in the mix. It may take 15 minutes for the mouth’s pH to return to normal after the last sip, and that means a steady diet of sugary drinks can alter the mouth for hours each day.
Diet sodas often hover around a pH of 3.2, far into the acidic range that damages teeth. It’s a good thing that sugar is missing, but a steady exposure to high acidity can still lead to a weakening of enamel.
Limit the damage
The best strategy for the well-being of your teeth and overall health is to enjoy water on a regular basis. If you’re going to drink soda, consider the following tips:
- Rinse with water right after drinking one of these beverages.
- Avoid drinks that list acids on the ingredient label.
If you consume a sports drink during strenuous exercise or enjoy an occasional soda with a meal, there’s not a lot of reason to worry. It’s important to realize it is high frequency sugar intake that is most likely to cause decay.