While most people understand the connection between sugar and tooth decay, you might think that drinking diet soda will resolve the problem because there is no sugar in diet soda. But diet soda still contains acids that can cause damage to tooth enamel and some of the activities you might think would help, such as brushing your teeth immediately after a diet soda, can actually make things worse. Once you have damaged teeth, you might still be at risk of tooth loss even with proper dental care.
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Acids in Diet Soda
Diet soda contains acids that can literally dissolve tooth enamel, according to research published in the March-April 2007 issue of “General Dentistry.” Researchers compared the effect of 20 commercial soft drinks on tooth enamel. Both sugared and diet soft drinks were tested, and all caused some degree of tooth enamel erosion. Citric acid and phosphoric acid were identified as the primary cause of erosion. You are more likely to develop cavities in areas where the tooth enamel is pitted or grooved.
Your overall health and other habits can affect whether you can save your teeth if you stop drinking diet soda. Smoking is one habit that can increase your risk of dental disease. Poor nutrition or substance abuse increase the risk of gingivitis, or gum disease, according to MayoClinic.com. Diseases that affect your metabolism, such as diabetes, make it more difficult for your body to heal. If you have decreased immunity from leukemia or AIDS, chronic dry mouth or are taking certain medications, you are more likely to have oral health problems.
Damaged tooth enamel can be repaired in some cases, according to Wisconsin Reconstructive Implant Dentistry. Porcelain crowns can replace deteriorating teeth. Mineralizing agents such as toothpastes and mineral rinses might help in cases where enamel loss is identified early and the offending dietary practice – such as drinking diet soda – is stopped. Root canals, crowns or bridges might be needed if teeth are severely damaged.
Improving Your Oral Health
The first strategy in your progress to better oral health is to stop drinking diet soda. The next should be a visit to your dentist, who can evaluate your overall dental health. Your dentist can determine the degree of enamel erosion you have experienced and make suggestions for therapy. Regular dental care and good oral hygiene, as well as improved eating habits, might help to prevent further damage. But even good dental care and the elimination of diet soda might not prevent you from further erosion and tooth loss, according to dentist Dan Peterson of Nebraska.