newyrAccording to statistics, around 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions. The top of the list of resolutions often involve weight loss, fitness, financial health, improving relationships, etc. There is one resolution, however, that can directly affect not only your overall health, but also the health of your teeth.

The Harvard School of Public Health reports that over half of the American population consumes soda on a daily basis. Soda (or “pop”, “cola”, “soda pop”, depending on where you hail from) can contribute to numerous health issues, the top of which is obesity. But what you might not know is that soda consumption is one of the most common dietary factors in tooth decay.

The problem is two-fold:

SUGAR: Plaque bacteria feed off of sugar. When the sugar from a soda interacts with that bacteria, it metabolizes the sugar as acids, which attack the enamel and tooth structure for at least 20 minutes. Tooth enamel is there to protect your teeth from decay. Every time you take a sip of soda, you start another 20 minutes of acid attack. And if you are a child or teenager, the risk is even higher, since your enamel is not yet completely developed.

ACID: Most sodas contain phosphoric and citric acid, which increases the risk of cavities and tooth decay. You may think that you are safe if you drink diet sodas, but diet sodas are still acidic, so the risk of damage is still high.

Research also shows that how you drink a soda makes a difference. The longer you hold the soda in your mouth, the more acidic it becomes, leading to more damage.

Making changes

Habits are hard to break, and habits involving sugar and caffeine are some of the most difficult. Giving up soda and replacing it with water offers many health benefits, one of the most important being the preservation of the health of your teeth. If you’re not ready to take that step yet though, here are some ways to help reduce the harmful affects soda may be causing to your teeth:

  • Sip soda through a straw to reduce the amount that actually touches your teeth
  • After you drink a soda, rinse your mouth out with water to remove the sugars and acid that have built up
  • Rinse with a flouride mouthwash
  • Since the acids soften your enamel, avoid brushing for at least an hour after drinking a soda
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