With childhood obesity especially being a widely recognized, spreading problem that Toronto’s doctors, dentists and parents today take increasingly seriously, soft drinks have come under an all-out, all-angles assault. While the staff at Oasis Dental Milton embraces a philosophy rooted in “all things in moderation,” we’re often reluctant to argue.
It’s a bigger problem now than ever for a good reason: the drinks themselves are, collectively, a bigger problem now than ever. Since the 1950s, standard serving sizes have doubled. Once upon a time, Coke came in 6.5-oz. cans. These days, with the exception of shunted-down sizes introduced fairly recently, the 12-oz. can has become the smallest regular size. Not even taking into consideration the 20-oz. and litre plastic bottles available underneath the 2-litre maximum factory size, restaurant fountain drinks typically start at 24-oz. cups and often run all the way up to 44-oz. sizes.
It’s a big leap, especially considering that University of Alabama-Birmingham laboratory tests ranked Coca-Cola’s overall acidity right next to that of battery acid.
Researchers ranked 22 separate liquids with their acidity right beside their sugar content per 12-oz. serving. Keep in mind, the lower the number, the greater the acidity.
With water “topping” the ranking with a neutral 7.0 acidity and 0 grams of sugar and battery acid at the “low” end with an acidity of 1.0 and also 0 grams of sugar, Coca-Cola clocked in at 2.4 acidity with 40 grams of sugar per 12 oz.
The five beverages ranking after Coke and their acid contents:
Consider some food for thought about each drink that you take.
When you sip a beverage like Coke, you set those acids loose on your teeth for 16-20 minutes for each sip – ironically, actually making it better for your teeth (though still not “good”) to just chug the sugary stuff in one shot. With your mouth already supplying the oral bacteria, you’re adding two more of the four necessary ingredients to start tooth decay and formation of cavities: sugar and acid. Your slow enjoyment adds the fourth – time.
Calcium phosphate crystals can be leached out of teeth as the oral bacteria take in sugar and spew lactic acid onto them, resulting in soft spots in enamel. Toothpastes can start the process of remineralizing teeth with help from mouthwashes and saliva naturally restores oral pH, but there’s only so much help they provide under a constant enough assault. Also, these processes only help early on, before there’s an actual hole.
To stem the tide, we recommend first off keeping sugary drinks to a minimum. In the interim, brush after meals and chase sugar-filled, acidic drinks with water to rinse out the acid. Meanwhile, sugar-free gum or anything with xylitol can help offset the damage, too.
If you absolutely have to have a soft drink, there are smarter ways to do it. Abstain from them before bedtime, as bacteria seriously goes to work while you’re sleeping. What’s more, always drink them with meals only, so as to provide something to help absorb the acid. Finally, when reasonable, use a straw to keep the beverage’s contact with teeth to a minimum.