Carbonated beverages include soft drinks, spring water, beer and some wines. Spring water, beer and sparkling wines are carbonated naturally either due to absorbing carbon dioxide from the ground, as in the case of spring water, or through the fermentation process. Soft drinks are artificially carbonated. According to the Pediatric Dental Health website, each American drinks more than 53 gallons of carbonated drinks every year, much of it in the form of soft drinks. Many young children consume soft drinks every day, including 21 percent of children ages 1 to 2 and 56 percent of 8-year-olds. There are many health downsides to such high consumption of soft drinks, among them the effect on teeth.
When it comes to teeth, Tufts University says it isn’t how much sugar is eaten, but how long it is in contact with teeth. There are naturally occurring bacteria in everyone’s mouths. The bacteria feed on sugar, forming acids that can harm teeth. The Pediatric Dental Health website advises that the sugar content in many carbonated beverages is as much as 10 teaspoons for a 12 ounce drink. Such large amounts of sugar consumed regularly not only contributes to the obesity epidemic in the country, it also exposes users to tooth damage.
In addition to the acids formed by bacteria in the mouth when they feed on sugar, the Pediatric Dental Health site advises most carbonated beverages contain phosphoric acid, citric acid or carbonic acid. Any of these can erode tooth enamel. According to Delta Dental, the calcium in saliva works to remineralize teeth after exposure to small amounts of eroding acid, but with the increased consumption of carbonated beverages, it’s not enough. Even diet soft drinks contain damaging acids. People often consume many soft drinks over the course of a day, which means tooth enamel is exposed to the acids over several hours. While it helps to drink soft drinks with a straw to keep acid away from tooth enamel, an even better alternative is to reduce or eliminate their consumption in favor of water.
Reduced Calcium Intake
The body needs calcium for many processes, including building strong bones and teeth, but carbonated beverages, especially soft drinks, often supplant calcium-rich drinks in the diet. According to the Pediatric Dental Health website, milk consumption by teens in the United States has decreased by 40 percent at the same time their consumption of soft drinks has risen. Women build most of their bone mass by the age of 18, so replacing calcium-rich drinks with soft drinks during teen years leaves women at risk of osteoporosis later in life. Pregnant women who choose soft drinks over calcium-rich drinks are not only affecting their own health, but also the health of their unborn children. Tooth decay later can be one of the many ill effects of poor nutrition in the womb.