There's WHAT in my drink?!
Most people would never consider sitting down and eating 9 spoonfuls of table sugar, correct? I hate to break it to you, but that's exactly what you're doing when you drink just one can of Coca-Cola. One 12oz. can of Coke contains 9 teaspoons of sugar, the main food source for the bacteria that cause cavities. Coca-Cola and other sodas are not alone. Fruit juices, sports drinks, and energy drinks all have high sugar contents. Even most of the juice boxes marketed towards kids have at least a few teaspoons each. Again, imagine letting your child scoop 3 or 4 spoonfuls of plain white sugar right out of the bag- you just wouldn't!
Unfortunately, it's not just the sugars in beverages that can destroy your teeth. Acid is the other big player. This is why diet versions are not always a great substitute for regular ones. Acids soften the hard protective enamel layer of your teeth. Softened enamel can wear very quickly and once it's gone, there's no way to rebuild it. We call this wearing away of enamel "erosion". Any beverage with a pH below 4.0 is considered potentially damaging to our teeth. Some of the popular drinks sold in the US have pHs as low as 2.3. This is equivalent to drinking a glass of pure lemon juice. Click here to read a fairly comprehensive list of the pHs of waters, sports drinks, fruit drinks, and sodas from 2016. It may make you think twice about what beverage you reach for next time you're thirsty!
If you do decide to drink one of these sugary or acidic beverages, rinsing out with water immediately afterwards can help wash the sugar off of your teeth and dilute the acid. By no means am I endorsing a ban on these types of drinks. In fact, I allow my own daughter to enjoy a juice box with her friends or a lemonade while we're at a restaurant and I often reach for a carbonated drink to quench my own thirst. However, I think we need to start looking at these drinks more as an occasional treat, rather than a staple beverage.