The consumption of soda on a regular basis has a laundry list of bad side effects on an individual. A new study recently revealed that it may damage teeth in a manner similar to that of methamphetamine and crack cocaine use. According to data released in the March/April 2013 issue of the peer-reviewed journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, tooth erosion is common in people who are addicted to soda and methamphetamine. The case study compared the mouths of three different individuals: An excessive soda drinker, a current methamphetamine user and a former user of the drug that admitted to long-time usage. While all three people in the case study admitted to having poor oral hygiene practices, researchers found similar patterns in the rotting and erosion of their teeth.
Consuming soft drinks
The combination of sugar, acid and carbonation found in sodas poses great risks to the overall health of the mouth and teeth. While the acid works to weaken the enamel, the sugar attracts bacteria that cause bad breath and play a role in tooth decay. In a scale provided by the Mississippi State Department of Health, Pepsi and Coca-Cola both have an acidity rate of 4.5 and sugar level of 9.8 and 9.3 teaspoons, respectively. To put the figure into perspective, the chart also noted that battery acid has an acidity rating of 6.
In addition to the acidic nature of the beverage, when sugar and bacteria combine in the mouth, extra acid is formed to attack the teeth. Acid can affect the enamel for a period of 20 minutes at a time, which starts after each sip of soda. This means that those who consume a can of soda over an extended period of time, or consistently intake soft drinks throughout the day, are prone to experience the most damage.
“You look at [soda mouth] side-to-side with ‘meth mouth’ or ‘coke mouth,’ it is startling to see the intensity and extent of damage more or less the same,” Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny, a professor of restorative dentistry at the Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia told Health Day News.
Oral health similarities between crack cocaine and soda
The study in General Dentistry found that individuals who have used crack cocaine and those who regularly consume soft drinks had the same type and severity of damage in their mouth. All of the individuals who participated in the study had severe tooth erosion. While creating methamphetamine, ingredients such as lantern fuel, battery acid and drain cleaner can be used, which play a leading role in tooth erosion from use of the drug. Although the individual who was studied consumed two liters of diet soda for roughly three to five years, many researchers and doctors say that both diet and regular sodas are extremely harmful to the teeth due to their high contents of acid.
One of the best ways to fight tooth erosion is to decrease the consumption of soda or other carbonated beverages. Most importantly, these beverages should be avoided prior to bedtime, and users should be conscious of drinks coming in direct contact with the teeth. Drinking soda with a straw can help keep soda away from the enamel. In addition, it is helpful to rinse the mouth with water after drinking a carbonated beverage. This washes away acid and sugar that can cause cavities, harm gums and exacerbate bad breath. Although brushing the teeth after drinking these beverages can be helpful, it’s important to drink water beforehand, otherwise the teeth’s enamel is vulnerable against the abrasive nature of a toothbrush.