As I mentioned in this post about the health risks of overconsumption of sugared sodas, many soft drinks (both sugared and diet) are highly acidic and demineralize tooth surfaces. The amount of damage done is related to exposure time and strength, so it helps a bit to drink them with straws (which reduces the exposure of the teeth to the drink) and to rinse with milk immediately after. Brushing your teeth shortly after drinking acidic beverages is not advised because the scrubbing action can further damage temporarily weakened tooth surfaces.
Drinking water or tea is obviously better, but if you or your children enjoy the occasional soda, the tooth demineralization problem is not severe — the surfaces will be remineralized quickly by the teeth’s natural repair processes. But avoid continuous or frequent consumption.
I personally drank too much soda and ground my teeth due to the stress of being an undergraduate at MIT; the grinding surfaces of my teeth lost all of their enamel in those years.
Science Daily has the story of an Australian study by researcher Chelsea Rand:
Dental researchers at the University of Adelaide are warning parents of the dangers of soft drinks, fruit juice, sports drinks and other drinks high in acidity, which form part of a “triple-threat” of permanent damage to young people’s teeth.
For the first time, researchers have been able to demonstrate that lifelong damage is caused by acidity to the teeth within the first 30 seconds of acid attack.
The researchers say drinks high in acidity combined with night-time tooth grinding and reflux can cause major, irreversible damage to young people’s teeth.
“Dental erosion is an issue of growing concern in developed countries, and it is often only detected clinically after extensive tooth wear has occurred,” says Dr Sarbin Ranjitkar, corresponding author of a paper on tooth enamel erosion published in the Journal of Dentistry.
“Such erosion can lead to a lifetime of compromised dental health that may require complex and extensive rehabilitation — but it is also preventable with minimal intervention,” Dr Ranjitkar says. [He] says the number of cases of tooth erosion from the consumption of acidic beverages is on the rise in children and young adults. “Often, children and adolescents grind their teeth at night, and they can have undiagnosed regurgitation or reflux, which brings with it acidity from the stomach. Combined with drinks high in acidity, this creates a triple threat to young people’s teeth which can cause long-term damage.”
“The important thing to appreciate is that there is a balance between acids and host protection in a healthy mouth. Once that balance is shifted in favor of the acids, regardless of the type of acid, teeth become damaged,” he says.
For more on diet and weight loss:
Getting to Less Than 10% Body Fat Like the Models – Ask Me How!
Starbucks, Jamba Juice Make You Fat
Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat. Government Guidelines Did!
‘Fed Up’ Asks, Are All Calories Equal?
Fructose: The True Villain?
More on “Fed Up”, Sugar Subsidies, and Obesity
Another Study on Diet Drinks
LeBron James Cut Carbs for Lean Look
Why We’re Fat: In-Depth Studies Under Way
Almonds: Superfood, Eat Them Daily for Heart Health
Fish Oil Supplements Ward Off Dementia
More on Diet Drinks: Best Studies Show They Aid Weight Loss
Vani Hari: “Food Babe” and Quack
Cleanses and Detox Diets: Quackery
Sugared Soft Drinks: Health Risk? (and What About Diet Soda?)
Gluten-Free Diets: The Nocebo Effect
Fish and Fish Oil for Better Brain Health
Salt: New Research Says Too Little May Be Unhealthy
Bulletproof Coffee: Coffee, Oil, and Butter for Breakfast?