Soda and Braces: Why You Should Avoid This Combination
Everyone likes to indulge in a tasty treat occasionally.
From a dental perspective, there is nothing wrong with this, as long as:
- It is an occasional treat
- You brush (and even floss) your teeth after indulging
- You rinse your mouth after eating/drinking the treat (at the very least)
Unfortunately, some sweet treats – like sodas – are consumed daily and sometimes multiple times a day. While adults often consume carbonated beverages, those most likely to consume them are teens, who are also most likely to be wearing braces.
Why is the topic of soda and braces such a concern to your Santa Barbara orthodontist? It is because soda can significantly damage your teeth and lead to dental issues like dental decay.
Why Is Soda Bad for Your Teeth?
There are two reasons why soda is bad for your teeth:
- It is acidic
- It tends to be full of sugar
Acidic foods and beverages can, over time, weaken your enamel. When the enamel is weak, it cannot withstand substances and forces that attack it every day, including:
- Bite pressure (from clenching and grinding)
- Eating hard, crunchy foods
- Plaque and tartar (also known as calculus or calcified plaque)
Strong, healthy enamel protects the inner layers of the teeth. Healthy enamel is so strong, in fact, that dentists have to use tools made with diamond bits to remove the enamel during restorative dental procedures.
However, acids in the foods we eat or those produced by bacteria can significantly erode the enamel and lead to:
- Dental decay
- Tooth sensitivity
- Increased risk of cracked teeth
- Increased risk of chips and fractures
The chemicals in soda – including those that cause effervescence – are highly acidic. Carbonated drinks get their fizziness from carbon dioxide, which turns into carbonic acid. In essence, soda is an acid bath for your teeth.
Is There a Link Between Soda and Gum Disease?
Soft drinks can also contribute to gum disease. The sugar in the soda increases plaque build-up. If the plaque is not removed often, it causes:
- Gum irritation
- Red, sore gums
- Bleeding gums
- Gum sensitivity
Soda and Decay – What You Need to Know
Sugar is bad for your teeth. The bad bacteria in your mouth love sugar. In fact, it is what they prefer to eat. Excess sugar also disrupts the balance of your oral microbiome, increasing the number of bad bacteria and decreasing the good.
As the bacteria consume the sugar, it releases acid, which causes enamel erosion.
Soda puts you at a higher risk of damage because it essentially bathes every tooth and every tooth surface in sugar. And if you are like a lot of people, you tend to sip your soda over the course of many hours, or perhaps you drink one soda after another throughout the day. In these situations, your teeth are constantly soaked in sugar.
The sugar, as well as the acidity of the carbonation, puts you at a much higher risk of developing cavities.
Soda and Braces – An Even Worse Combination?
What about soda and braces? If you are going through orthodontic treatment, you should definitely consider eliminating soda from your diet.
It is easy for plaque to build up around ortho brackets. And for some people, thoroughly removing the decay can be a bit difficult. In these situations, it is easy for the acid to demineralize the enamel around the brackets, leading to:
- White spots on the teeth once the brackets are removed
- Dental decay around the brackets
- Decay between the teeth
- Gum disease
Aesthetics is another reason why you will want to avoid or restrict soda consumption. Soda (not just the dark ones) can stain both metal brackets and ceramic brackets, as well as clear, white, and colored bands.
Is Soda the Only Drink to Avoid During Ortho Treatment?
Unfortunately, soda is not the only drink that can damage your teeth. However, it is possibly the worst due to its acidity and sugar content.
Other drinks that are high in sugar, highly acidic, and/or have a high risk of staining your teeth or brackets include:
- Fruit juices
- Flavored coffee
- Sports drinks
- Energy drinks
What Can You Drink Instead of Soda to Avoid Dental Decay?
The best thing to drink is water. It keeps you hydrated, which keeps you healthy and energized. It also does not stain, so your teeth and braces will look good throughout your orthodontic treatment.
If you want to drink something besides water, drink unsweetened teas or water infused with fruit (lemon, orange, or lime rinds, for example) or mint leaves.
How to Care for Your Teeth If You Drink Soda Regularly
What if you want a treat and soda is your indulgence of choice? We totally understand that. And we are not trying to say that you can never have a soda ever again. Instead, reduce your consumption as much as possible to protect the health of your teeth, gums, and body overall.
When you consume your soda, make sure to:
- Drink through a straw: A straw can help prevent coating all your teeth in soda and reduce the risk of staining teeth, brackets, or clear aligners.
- Choose lighter colored sodas: If you are concerned that drinking soda will stain your teeth or brackets, stick to sodas that are lighter in color. Though they have the same or similar sugar content and acid levels, they are less likely to cause staining.
- Practice good dental homecare: Daily flossing is a must, as is brushing your teeth after every meal. After drinking soda, rinse your mouth with water and continue to drink water throughout the day.
Talk to Your Santa Barbara Orthodontist for More Healthy Tips
Your Santa Barbara orthodontist and his team want the very best for you. They want to make sure you get the smile of your dreams in the most comfortable way possible.
Additionally, our team is committed to helping you protect your teeth and gums. Paying for a straighter, more beautiful smile is an investment of your time and money, whether you are the one in braces or you are paying for your child’s orthodontic care.
We want to help you protect your investment, which is why we constantly provide our patients with the education, tools, and tips they need to keep their teeth healthy and strong.
Protect your investment! Contact us to get more dental healthcare tips.