Pop and soft drinks have quickly turned from an occasional treat into an everyday beverage for many Americans. As a result, the amount of tooth decay and other diseases caused by the acids and sugar in these drinks have increased. Surprisingly, the biggest consumer of pop and other soft drinks are small children, teens, and young adults, and pop consumption has actually surpassed milk consumption. While drinking 2 servings of dairy a day with a meal can help build and protect enamel, sugary drinks have acids that eat away at enamel, especially children’s enamel that is not fully developed.

The calories in pop and fruit juice come entirely from sugar- there is absolutely no nutritional value. The sugar in pop is what leads most people to turn to diet pop- no calories and no sugar, so consumers assume that it has to be better for your teeth and your waistline. Unfortunately, this is not true- diet pop also contains acid that wears away at your teeth with each sip. The acid attacks caused by pop and fruit juices can last up to 20 minutes, and with each sip, the attack starts all over again.

Frighteningly, one out of five one and two-year-olds drink pop every day. The acid and sugar in pop not only wears away at their undeveloped enamel, but it also leads to diabetes, obesity, and eventually osteoporosis when drinking pop becomes a daily, lifelong habit. Worse still, the sugar and caffeine in pop and other soft drinks can actually speed up the process of dehydration. While pop and soft drinks are clearly delicious, they have virtually no nutritional value and do more harm than good. Water is the best and the cleanest source of hydration, and it saves your smile.

The good news is that pop, juice, and soft drinks can be enjoyed in moderation. When you do drink one of these beverages, here are a few tips to minimize damage to your smile:

  • Don’t sip the drink for a long time- take small, short sips.
  • Don’t drink pop or juice before bed, as the sugars and acids have longer to sit in your mouth without being disrupted.
  • Don’t drink even diet pop each and every day.
  • Rinse out your mouth after you drink pop or juice.
  • Drink pop or juice using a straw to minimize contact with your teeth.
  • Read labels and look for ingredients like sugar and acids in any drinks.

Pop and other soft drinks are only meant to be consumed as an occasional treat, but habits are hard to break. Though diet pop is marketed as being better for your teeth and your body, the acid in it wears away at enamel. When small children who are still developing drink pop daily, it can lead to poor dental health, but also far more serious diseases like obesity and diabetes later in life. Enjoy pop and juice in moderation, aim to drink 2 servings of dairy a day with a meal, and always rinse your teeth after consumption.