A recent TikTok viral trend, under the #healthycoke hashtag, has been met with mixed reviews. The video, which inspired TikTok users to mix balsamic vinegar and guava seltzer to make a “healthier” low-sugar alternative to cola, has received over 6.5 million views.
Dentists, however, have not given the do-it-yourself cola their stamp of approval. In fact, the American Dental Association released a statement on June 14th about the risks of the mixture. Although the sugar in sodas has been shown to cause cavities, it is the acid they contain that breaks down the protective enamel on our teeth. A study of sugar-free beverages and tooth erosion, published in the ADA’s open-access journal in May, confirmed that even sugarless sparkling water caused erosion.
Although the mixture would seem to be preferable compared to a sugar-filled Coke, the #healthycoke combination of a carbonated beverage with a sticky vinegar can actually increase the acidic risk to the teeth. The stickiness of the balsamic vinegar adheres to the teeth and allows the acid from the seltzer to stay on the teeth longer, which can lead to more erosion and damage to the enamel. And as tooth enamel breaks down, it can reveal a yellow tissue called dentin, so the teeth may become discolored. Tooth erosion can also lead to tooth sensitivity, a long term problem that worsens over time. In addition, when the protective enamel on teeth is eroded, so is your protection from decay and infection.
Healthy Habits – No Matter What You Drink
Just because carbonated beverages can increase your risk for damage to the enamel, that doesn’t mean you have to give them up completely. Whenever you choose a beverage containing acid, you can use these tips to reduce tooth erosion from acidic food and beverages:*
- Use a straw, sip and swallow – do not swish or hold it in your mouth longer than you need to.
- Wait an hour before brushing to give saliva a chance to naturally wash away acids and re-harden enamel.
- Rinse with water, drink milk or enjoy a snack of cheese right afterward. Dairy and other calcium-rich foods can help neutralize acids.
- Keep saliva flowing to keep acids under control and protect your teeth. You can do so by chewing sugarless gum.
- Look for dental health products like enamel erosion control toothpaste and sugarless gum with the ADA Seal of Acceptance, which indicates the product has been rigorously and independently evaluated by dental experts.
- Practice good oral health every day: Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, clean between your teeth daily with floss or another interdental cleaner, eat a healthy diet that limits sugary foods and beverages, and visit a dentist regularly.
Visit MouthHealthy.org for more information on how food and beverage choices can impact teeth.