Soda or pop, soda pop or cola…whatever you call it in your neck of the woods, we can all agree that sweet, carbonated beverages can be a tasty and refreshing accompaniment to your favorite summer treats. Unfortunately, those same tasty beverages can also be unhealthy and very hard on your teeth--even the sugar-free variety.
And what about all the flavored waters, energy drinks and bottled iced teas that are popular in the summer?
Many of those sugary or acidic drinks can play havoc on your dental health. Read on to learn some of the negative effects that sweetened, flavored and carbonated beverages have on the health of your teeth.
Negative Health Effects of Soda
The sugar in sweetened or carbonated beverages coats your teeth, creating the perfect environment for growth of bacteria and tooth decay. Most people don't think to brush their teeth after drinking a sweet beverage, so that sugar can sit on their teeth for hours.
Acid Overload for Your Teeth and Body
Many colas or bottled iced teas are made with phosphoric acid, which can eat away at your tooth enamel and cause tooth decay. Phosphoric acid can also trigger acid reflux, which can further break down the enamel of your teeth.
Phosphoric acid can also cause you to lose calcium from your bones and teeth, because it converts to phosphorous in your body and the bones and teeth absorb it, pushing calcium out. Apart from the problems it causes with your oral health, phosphoric acid is believed to contribute to heart and kidney problems, and to accelerate aging.
Chemical Overload for Your Teeth and Body
Carbonated beverages have a lot of added chemicals that give flavor and color to the product. The dyes in these drinks can stain and discolor your teeth. If you drink a diet beverage, you are consuming a lot of chemical sweeteners on top of a lot of acidity. The chemicals and acidity in drinks can lead to erosion of your tooth enamel.
In addition to harming your teeth, chemicals in beverages can lead to several other health problems, including:
- Some of these chemicals, like caramel coloring, are known carcinogens
- Artificial sweeteners tend to confuse your metabolism, causing you to collect fat in new or atypical places on your body
- Brominated vegetable oil (BVO), which appears in citrus drinks, can cause memory loss and nerve disorders
- Bisphenol A (BPS) found in soda containers, is believed to contribute to obesity, infertility, and diabetes
Sugar Is Bad for Your Teeth and Overall Health
Most regular carbonated beverages are made by combining a sugar-laden syrup with carbonated water. In addition to coating your teeth with sugar syrup, the sugar can cause a sudden increase in your blood sugar levels, known as a blood sugar spike, followed by a debilitating crash soon after. When that happens, you end up stuck in a vicious cycle where you have to keep consuming the sugar just to stay awake.
Sugar is also high in calories--empty calories devoid of nutrients. The recommended serving size for most carbonated beverages is eight to twelve ounces, but many of us drink much larger portions, and have several portions. Over the course of a single day you could easily consume 800 calories or more by drinking soda--in addition to all the calories in your food. Consuming that many additional calories can lead to weight gain.
Avoid the Negative Effects of Soda
One way to have your soda and drink it too is to simply reduce your consumption. After all, everything is fine in moderation. For example, if you normally drink five cans of soda each day in summer, cut back to two to three cans.
Healthier Alternatives to Soda
To save the health of your teeth and keep your body in better shape, try replacing all or some of those artificial carbonated beverages with one or more of the alternatives:
- Plain water with ice
- Infused water (with fresh fruit added): Pour filtered water over fresh fruit, or vegetables and let them steep for a day in the refrigerator (options include lemon, lime, cucumber, carrots, strawberries, grapes, blueberries, apples, and fennel)
- Plain or fruit-infused sparkling mineral water
- Homemade iced tea (try herbal teas or fruity teas)
- Kombucha – a fermented tea beverage
- Coconut water
- Real fruit or vegetable juice (water it down with plain or sparkling water to reduce acidity)