There is no question that sugar is bad for your teeth, but sometimes it gets a little too much of the blame for tooth decay. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t avoid sugar to protect your oral health. You should. But if sugar is the only thing you are avoiding, then you could still be putting yourself at risk for tooth decay and gum disease.

The idea that avoiding sugar is all you need to do to protect your teeth accounts, at least in part, for the popularity of diet sodas. Some people will sip on these sugar free beverages all day long, blissfully ignorant to the damage they are doing to their teeth and gums.

At Sanders Family Dentist, here in Mansfield, TX, we want you to be able to make informed decisions about what you give your family to eat and drink. So here are some things you should know about tooth decay and diet soda.

What You Need to Know about Tooth Decay

Even though sugar gets most of the blame for tooth decay, the real culprit is a bacteria known as dental caries. Although you are born with this bacteria, most people pick it up from a family member when they are you, usually from sharing eating utensils. Dental caries feed on sugar, and then produce a corrosive acid as a byproduct. This acid secreted by bacteria is eats away at your tooth enamel, which is the true cause of decay. As you can see, sugar plays a major role in tooth decay, but it is only one of the players. Bacteria and acid also do their parts.

The Acid in Diet Soda

Since diet soda doesn’t contain sugar, the drink companies go to other chemicals for flavoring and to stimulate carbonation. Two of the most widely used flavoring additives for diet soda are phosphoric and citric acids.

Phosphoric Acid – This acid is a double threat when it comes to tooth decay. First of all, it is very corrosive. In fact, one of phosphoric acid’s many uses, other than flavoring diet soda, is to strip rust off of metal. Any acid powerful enough to strip rust is powerful enough to strip tooth enamel. So drinking diet sodas may not expose your teeth to sugar, put it definitely weakens them with acid.

The other threat presented by phosphoric acid is its tendency to block your body’s absorption of calcium, which is used to remineralize your enamel. So, phosphoric acid strips the enamel from your teeth, and then prevents them from healing themselves. That should be a big concern for anyone concerned with their oral health.

Citric Acid – Just like phosphoric acid, citric acid has a corrosive effect on your tooth enamel. It is often used to give diet that extra kick it needs to be appealing to consumers. The important thing to know about citric acid is that it is fruit a number beverages, including fruit juice and sports drinks. So even when you think you are doing something healthy, you could be hurting your smile.

Drink Some Water

One of the biggest problems with diet drinks is the false sense of security that comes with drinking them. This applies to weight loss as much as it does tooth decay. People think that just because they don’t have sugar, diet drinks are safe to drink all day long. The truth is, the only thing safe enough to drink all day long is water. In fact, you should drink water all day long.

Drinking water is essential for maintaining healthy oral hygiene. When you drink water you flush away food particles and bacteria, while also neutralizing the acid in your mouth. Dry mouth is a major contributor to tooth decay and gum disease because it gives dental caries an environment in which to thrive. So staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do to protect your smile.

Of course, if you only have a diet soda every now and then, and practice healthy home dental care by brushing and flossing and drinking plenty of water, then diet sodas will not be much of threat to you. But the same can be said for regular sodas, too. Just keep that in mind the next time you are choosing a beverage.

Come See Us

Regular visits to Sanders Family Dentist are essential for maintaining your oral health, as well. Come to our Mansfield office for a cleaning and examination and we will help protect your teeth form the threat of sugar and acid.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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