Giving up soda – even when it has fewer than 15 calories per serving – is a hassle, but your teeth will thank you later. A new study found consuming large quantities of diet soda can ruin a grill to the extent using crack-cocaine or methamphetamine does.
The report was published in the peer-reviewed journal, General Dentistry, and used a case study of a woman in her 30s. The subject examined drank two liters of soda daily for three-to-five years. Her teeth were in a horrid condition, similar to a 29-year-old meth user and a 51-year-old crack-cocaine addict. The meth addict has been using the drug for three years and his teeth erosion was compounded by drinking two-to-three cans of soda per day.
Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny is a professor at the Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia, Penn. and the researcher responsible for the study. He sees startling similarities between excess consumption of diet soda and long-term drug use.
“You look at it side-to-side with ‘meth mouth’ or ‘coke mouth,’ it is startling to see the intensity and extent of damage more or less the same,” he told HealthDay.
The woman featured in the report had soft, discolored teeth. Bassiouny links this to her sipping soda directly from a can or bottle and swishing it around her mouth before swallowing it.
“She also mentioned that when doing so, she habitually leaned on her left side against the arm of the sofa while watching television,” he said.
“None of the teeth affected by erosion were salvageable,” Bassiouny explained. All of her teeth were replaced with dentures. The crack-cocaine and meth addicts also had their teeth removed and substituted with dentures.
The effect of soda and diet soda on teeth can be attributed to the acid it contains. Meth, crack-cocaine and soda all have high levels of acidity, which can ruin enamel.
There is one caveat to Bassiouny’s study. The woman subject did not participate in routine visits to the dentist. She had not had a routine cleaning or necessary dental work in years. This is leading some organizations, including the American Beverage Association, to question the report’s validity.
The American Beverage Association told HealthDay, “The woman referenced in this article did not receive dental health services for more than 20 years — two-thirds of her life. To single out diet soda consumption as the unique factor in her tooth decay and erosion — and to compare it to that from illicit drug use — is irresponsible.”
Dr. Eugene Antenucci, spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry, told HealthDay soda is harmful to teeth, but it shouldn’t deter people from ever consuming it.
“Knowing that, you limit it and understand that you need to clean your mouth afterward,” he told HealthDay. “Even simple water will wash away the acidity. And everyone should brush twice a day, if not more often.”
Bassiouny agrees. He argues awareness of the issue is an important first step. He encourages people to notice how often they drink soda, how much they drink and how long it’s in their mouths.
“You can help prevent it from happening by reducing any of those,” he said.
Now is as good a time as any to go on a soda fast.