We usually reach out to diet sodas in a supermarket thinking that we’re making a conscious choice in terms of our health and calorie count. But did you know that diet sodas are as guilty as regular sodas when it comes to their effect on your teeth? Read on to find out why and see how you can save your teeth from the harmful effects of diet soda.

Similar to other sugar-free drinks and sugar-free confectionery, diet sodas are highly acidic, contributing to dental cavities by weakening the tooth enamel. Unlike their sugary counterpart, diet sodas don’t come with sugar, but they’re just as harmful to your teeth as regular soda.

How to find out the pH of any drink?

Every beverage comes with a pH level. When you dip the litmus paper in a drink, if the pH level comes under 7, then it’s acidic. If the pH level crosses 7, then the drink is alkaline (basic). The lower the pH, the more acidic the drink; the more acidic a drink is, the more it damages the teeth. Examples of high-acidic drinks are energy drinks, 100% citrus juices, diet sodas etc.

How diet sodas are harmful for your teeth?

Usually, acidic additives are added to make up for the flavor of sugar-free drinks. As you drink the diet soda, you may notice a strange feeling in your teeth – it’s due to the high levels of phosphoric acid, tartaric acid, and citric acid. The amalgamation of all these acids attacks your tooth, causing damage for nearly 20 minutes. This in turn affects the tooth enamel and makes it more sensitive and susceptible to tooth decay.

How do diet sodas erode your enamel?

The enamel is the outermost layer and forms a protective layer around the teeth. Healthy enamel paves the way for excellent oral hygiene. The acidity of diet sodas causes gradual erosion of this enamel. As the enamel fades away, the foundation of teeth is exposed. The unprotected teeth increasingly become sensitive as they come in contact with various forms of food/drinks. Without the presence of enamel, teeth are left powerless and at risk of cavities.

6 tips to prevent the effects of diet soda

  • It’s not recommended to brush immediately after drinking diet soda as it takes 30 minutes to an hour for the mouth to return to its natural pH. It’s highly probable that brushing soon after drinking soda would actually remove the softened enamel. Also, if left unbrushed for a long time after drinking soda, it leads to the constant deterioration of the enamel.
  • Gargle with clean water immediately after drinking diet soda.
  • Consume dairy products (milk, cheese etc.) after drinking diet soda as it will help neutralize the acidic value.
  • Drinking soda using a straw (reusable, if possible) will help limit the effect of soda on your teeth.
  • When opting for sugar-free drinks, avoid fruit/lemon flavors and go for mint or menthol flavors.
  • It’s better to avoid drinking diet sodas right before your bedtime and try to consume them along with your meals.

What are the alternatives to diet soda?

Instead of opting for high-acidic drinks, it’s best to consume the following beverages that are low in acid value. If you’re watching your weight and don’t want to indulge in sugar-filled drinks, there are plenty of healthy alternatives that are tooth-friendly:

  • Milk
  • Unsweetened coffee/tea
  • Tender coconut water
  • Black coffee/tea
  • Diluted juices

When you drink diet soda, your enamel is constantly under attack, and you might end up spending money to fix your teeth. According to the WHO Global Oral Health Report of 2022, oral diseases affect almost 3.5 billion people globally.

Diet sodas not only damage your teeth but also contribute to abdominal obesity (belly fat), which is a symptom of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. While sugar-free and energy drinks erode enamel, water is said to harden it. It’s best to always reach out for a glass of water rather than a can of diet soda when you’re feeling thirsty.

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