Soda is one of the top sources of “energy” for kids ages two to 18. We call the energy gained from soda “empty calories” because it provides the opposite of what a nutrient dense–food would provide. The added sugars in soda are associated with a range of chronic diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and dental caries (cavities). We strongly urge all the soda drinkers out there to get informed on just how bad soda is for our health. Plus, check out our list of tasty alternatives to get you on the road to healthier beverage options. We strongly believe these five reasons to kick your soda habit will get you ready to ditch the soft drinks.
#1. Sugar in soda causes cavities.
Depending on the size of your soda, one bottle contains anywhere between one to two-and-a-half servings. One study found that for each additional sugary drink serving you consume in one day, your risk of developing cavities increases by 22 percent! Cavities are 100 percent preventable and when we consume things like soda, we put ourselves at risk unnecessarily. Even when proper dental care is practiced, soda can wreak havoc on our teeth.
Soda has anywhere from 20 to 40 grams of sugar per serving. Some have as much as 70 grams. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Heart Association (AHA) both recommend that women take in no more than six teaspoons of sugar per day, which amounts to 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.
One study followed a teenager who grew up drinking fluoridated water and brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste. He developed cavities in every one of his teeth, requiring extensive care and the removal of two permanent teeth. After further investigation, researchers found he drank six to 12 cans of soda a day.
#2. Soda contributes to plaque.
Sodas add layers of sugar to your teeth that create plaque. Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on teeth. The bacteria that are naturally present in our mouth consume the sugar we drink (or eat). Then, they excrete a powerful acid. This is why the build-up of plaque contributes to tooth decay. Plaque can also develop on the tooth roots under the gum line. If left untreated, it can cause further problems like a breakdown in the bone supporting the tooth.
#3. Acid in soda causes enamel erosion.
Enamel is the hardest substance in the body. It’s harder than bone! But, almost anything will begin to break down when it lives in an unfavorable environment. Many soft drinks have an acidity that approaches the level of battery acid.
When cavity bacteria are present in the mouth, they colonize enamel, form dental plaque and begin metabolizing carbohydrates for fuel. When you have sugars like sucrose and fructose left over on your teeth, you’re giving the bacteria energy to continue eating. The bacteria produce acid as a result of this. The levels of acidity in your mouth rise, lowering of the pH of saliva. This takes a toll on enamel and begins to suck the minerals out of your teeth.
Research has found that when the pH drops below 5.5 for long periods or repetitively, there is a significant chance of developing a cavity in the enamel. For reference, lime juice has a pH of 2.1 and spring water has a pH of 7.4. The lower the number, the higher the acidity.
This article from the American Dental Association documents your favorite sodas as “extremely erosive,” “erosive” or “minimally erosive.” 39 percent (or 149 out of 379 beverages tested) were considered “extremely erosive” with a pH higher than 4. Soda today is “one of the most significant dietary sources of acid capable” of breaking down our enamel.
#4. Soft drinks can lead to tooth discoloration.
Dark sodas and colas have a history of staining teeth. Highly acidic drinks (including sports or energy drinks) may stain your teeth as they break down the tooth’s enamel. Because enamel is porous, it can absorb the color of the beverage or food you’re eating.
#5. Soda compromises your overall health.
You may be asking yourself if all this applies to diet sodas. It does. Diet sodas are still highly acidic and put your mouth at risk. When you drink one or more sodas throughout the day, you bathe your teeth in sugar and acid – and that acid is still present in diet soda. The effects would be less invasive if you drank the soda in 10 minutes, rinsed with water and followed up with brushing after. But, that’s not how many of us drink. Ask yourself, do you pop a top of cola at work and sip it at your desk, only to finish it after an hour has gone by?
Oral health professionals agree that the “consumption of sugar and sugary drinks is a strong risk factor for dental erosion and caries.” Soda negatively impacts more than our teeth. Drinking soda habitually is linked to obesity, tooth decay and a “myriad of other problems.” Certain types of cancer are linked to sugar intake, as well as depression and anxiety. If you’re feeling any symptoms of sluggishness or anxiousness, try removing soda from your daily regimen.
Looking for soda alternatives?
Hopefully, you’re now convinced to cut soda out of your life. There are many healthier alternatives with little-to-no sugar that can aid in your transition. Consider flavored sparkling water, which comes in a variety of flavors and many are sugar-free and much less acidic than sodas.
Be wary of any ingredients ending in “-ose.” These are also types of sugar and include:
Fruit-infused water is another way to get your daily dose of water with a flavorful spin on it. Herbs, citrus, and fruits and veggies like cucumber make fantastic additions.
Work on upping your daily water and milk intake, too. Research shows that individuals who drink soda are not only faced with the oral health risks, but they also consume less water and milk, which have restorative properties.
Looking for more ways to cut down on sugar? Check out: