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Should You Stop Drinking Sweet Stuff?

February 06, 2020 4 min read

Sugar, chips, chocolate, and candy are just like that shady clique in school your parents warned you about. Sure, they promise and deliver a lot of fun and exciting times…but they also take and harm when you hang around them for too long. Although these popular snacks are full of incredibly addictive flavor, they’re also full of harmful acids and compounds that can erode enamel and cause dental cavities.

Coffee

An energizing cup of coffee is often our last line of defense against sleepiness and exhaustion. Without our daily dose, we’d probably end up wandering around in a tired zombified daze. A lot of us might even jump at the chance to trade in glasses of water for this strong and intense drink if it were possible.

Hot drinks, in general, are more likely to harm tooth structure and melt enamel since they tend to stay in our mouths much longer, whereas cooler drinks don’t pose as much harm since they’re usually downed and swallowed right away. One of the earliest recorded instances of this can be found in an 1859 study by William Alcott comparing the effects of dietary changes in cows—cows who were fed warmer and hotter food developed painful cavities and diseased gums, while cows who continued to eat cold cud showed no signs of dental problems. Recent studies (conducted on humans of course) have also proven that drinking too many hot beverages can quickly melt away enamel and lead to tooth sensitivity.

On a more positive note, however, coffee extracts have been found to actually lessen and inhibit the growth of harmful oral bacteria. Studies comparing caffeinated and decaf drinks found that coffee extracts containing lots of caffeine did a much better job at stopping the growth of Streptococcus mutans (a common contributor to tooth decay) than their non-caffeinated counterparts. Chlorogenic acid, a major compound found in coffee, also proved to be quite effective at inhibiting the growth of harmful cavity-causing bacteria.

Coffee itself doesn’t pose any additional risks of oral bacteria growth, but it can still stain and discolor teeth. When you drink a lot of coffee throughout the day tannins, a plant-based substance that stains teeth, build up and stick to the enamel on your teeth. As a result, your teeth lose their pearly white luster and develop a darker, yellow color. While it’s not always possible for teeth to stay white and shiny throughout the day, you can lessen any staining or discoloration by washing away some sticky tannin with a cool glass of water.

Soda

We all love gulping down a cool can of soda on a hot summer’s day. It’s refreshing, flavorful…and also really bad for your teeth. Drinking too much soda can in fact lead to dental erosion—i.e. the melting of the surface of teeth by acids—as well as increased tooth sensitivity and painful cavities. This is because most cans of soda contain plenty of acids that can melt enamel and introduce harmful oral bacteria to your teeth.

In just 20 minutes phosphoric and citric acids found in most cans of soda can already cause quite a lot of damage to your teeth and bring you one step closer to the dentist’s office. Every time you drink a can of soda harmful acids can stick to enamel and weaken them. As a result, your teeth can become more sensitive and susceptible to damage. Without a protective layer between the surface of your teeth and harmful bacteria, you can become prone to painful dental cavities.

Another reason why soda isn’t really great for your teeth is that it contains plenty of sugar. Though it does make your drink taste and feel good, it can also attract bacteria and create even more harmful acids that can melt away enamel and make your teeth way more painful than usual. Even sugar-free sodas still carry the risk of harming your teeth and inducing painful cavities.

Sports Drinks

While soda and coffee are meant to more or less perk us up when we’re low on energy, sports drinks are specially made to keep us healthy and hydrated while we’re out on the court or running a few extra miles every day. Drinking way too much of it, however, can not only spell trouble for your gut but also melt away enamel and lead to painful cavities.

Sports drinks are likely to turn the acidity level of your saliva unsafe. Normal healthy saliva with a pH level of 7 normally protects teeth and helps repair enamel, while saliva with a pH level that’s way too low or high can end up damaging teeth even further. Since most sports drinks have a pH level that’s way too low to be considered safe they can end up turning your saliva unhealthy and dangerous for your teeth.

Acids in sports drinks can also accelerate the destruction of enamel and lead to painful cavities. High amounts of phosphoric and citric acids in most sports drinks can badly damage tooth structure and quickly erode calcium. As a result of weakened enamel and lost protective agents, teeth can become way more sensitive and in turn make you feel terrible pain.


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