Is Soda Destroying Your Smile?

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Think you’re getting off scot-free because you drink diet, sugar-free soda? Think again. It might be OK for your waistline, but diet soda could be ruining your smile. According to new research, heavy consumption of the seemingly innocent soft drink can do as much harm to your teeth as methamphetamine or crack cocaine.

Full-calorie soda drinkers, you’re not off the hook either. "Both [varieties] have the same drastic effect if they are consumed in the same frequency, the same amount and the same duration," says Dr. Eugene Antenucci, spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry.

Methamphetamine, crack cocaine and soda (both diet and regular) are all highly acidic and can cause similar dental problems. "You look at it 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," says Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny, professor of restorative dentistry at the Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia.

As you might imagine, the American Beverage Association is not too pleased with the new findings, calling the comparison between drinking soda and illicit drug use “irresponsible” in a recent statement. "The body of available science does not support that beverages are a unique factor in causing tooth decay or erosion," says the American Beverage Association. "However, we do know that brushing and flossing our teeth, along with making regular visits to the dentist, play a very important role in preventing them." 

So, is the solution for a healthy smile to turn on soda altogether? Like all good things, moderation is probably your best bet. "You'd be better off if you didn't drink the soda," Dr. Antenucci says, "but in my mind there's not a reason for that extreme."

Try and limit the acidic beverages you drink and remember to clean your teeth afterwards. Even just rinsing with water, in addition to brushing at least twice a day, will wash away the acidity. Try these spring cleaning tips.