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May 23rd, 2013

A recent discussion with a young patient proved to be somewhat disconcerting.  The middle school child told us that he was no longer drinking soda and that the vending machines in his school no longer had carbonated drinks, but had a variety of “sports drinks” and other sugar containing beverages.  He somehow felt that the removal of the bubbles made the products less threatening.
Tooth decay results from a reaction between bacterial plaque on the teeth and sugars in the diet.  The bacteria use the sugar to produce acids which dissolve the minerals of the tooth enamel, leading to decay.  The longer the contact time with the sugar, the more active the bacteria are.
Additionally, soft drinks are very high in acids (have a low pH value).  This acidity weakens the enamel surface making it even easier for decay to start and more difficult for teeth to re-harden with proper exposure to fluoride and minerals.
Constant ingestion of any sugars and carbohydrates will keep the bacteria constantly producing acids.  In fact, with a dose of sugar, it will take 20 minutes for the acid levels to return to below harmful levels.  For the best health, it is best between meals to be drinking only plain water, or even plain water with a few bubbles.
For the record, the pH of water is neutral at 7.  Battery acid has a pH of 0 and lye has a pH of 14.  Any reading below 5.5 will damage tooth enamel.  Most soft drinks are at about 3.  And that includes sugar free and non carbonated drinks as well.  Not the kind of stuff we want to bathe our teeth in all day long.

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