Soft Drink Tooth Decay
PARISH NURSE MINISTRY NEWSLETTER
here has been a steady rise in the amount of sugary drinks consumed every day by children and adults. It is not
unusual for children to drink 6-7 cans a day. The average American consumes more than 23 pounds of sugar from
soft drinks yearly. Contrary to popular belief, diet or “sugar free” pop can be just as harmful to your teeth because
of its high acid level.
Tooth decay is caused from the tiny bacteria thriving around teeth that, when exposed to sugar, produce acid. The acid
causes enamel and any exposed root surfaces to soften and decay. Even if your teeth are treated for tooth decay, if you
continue to drink an excess of soft drinks, decay will return.
Risk factors of soft drink tooth decay: exposure time, previous cavities, crowns, or fillings, reduced sali-
vation (i.e. with medication, radiation, or dry mouth), genetics, individual susceptibility, home care, no dental care (neg-
lect), not enough fluoridation, crowding of teeth, and deep pits and grooves in teeth.
Effects of tooth decay: The hard outer coating of the teeth gets eaten away causing surfaces of the tooth to look
darkly stained, become soft and leathery in consistency. Some teeth can get holes at the gum line. When left untreated,
tooth decay can lead to larger cavities, root canals, crowns, and possible tooth loss. Beyond tooth decay, excess sugar con-
sumption can lead to obesity, diabetes, calcium-robbed bones, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and overall poor health.
Prevention: Limit the amount of soda and other sugary liquids you drink, especially when wearing braces or retain-
ers. Drink other alternatives, such as water. Read labels for sugar content, which can also be called high-fructose, corn
syrup, sucrose, glucose, or dextrose, and ask your dentist about prescription fluoride to strengthen tooth enamel.
Soft drinks with high acid content: Pepsi, Coke, Orange Minute Maid Soda, Hawaiian Fruit Punch, and
Squirt. Remember to read the labels.
Soft drinks with high sugar content: Orange Slice, Grape Minute Maid Soda, Orange Minute Maid Soda,
Mountain Dew, and Barq’s to name a few. Remember to read the labels; even those waters that are flavored and packets of
flavoring to enhance the water taste may have sugar content.
Treatment of soft drink tooth decay: Decay between and around the teeth is difficult to treat; often, the
end treatment is crowns and caps on the teeth. Usually, regular cleaning by your dentist, use of fluoride treatments and
proper brushing and flossing can reduce tooth decay. You do not have to stop drinking sodas entirely, but gradually start to
limit your daily intake. The frequency of consumption is more or equally important as the amount consumed. Drink liq-
uids low in sugar and acid, and be sure to maintain good oral health by brushing, flossing and visiting your dentist. If you
have questions on soft drink tooth decay, ask your dental care provider.
Did you know that proper oral hygiene and care can add years to your life and good health?
More information on oral health and care can be found on the Parish Nurse Health bulletin Board in the LCH.
May God bless you and keep you and hold you in the palm of His hand.
Excerpts taken from Oral Health Pamphlet “Soft Drink Tooth Decay” Colwell-Patterson Representative