Sugar and Your Teeth

Soft drinks cause tooth decay if a patient drinks more than one soft drink a day. Even diet soft drinks are very acidic and therefore cause cavities. One of the most damaging things a patient can do to his or her teeth is sip on a soft drink during the day. Try to consume soft drinks only at mealtime and drink unflavored water between meals.

Sugar in coffee and tea also can cause decay if the patient drinks more than one or two cups, or if the patient sips on the coffee or tea while working. Substitute an artificial sweetener for sugar. If you use a flavored creamer in your coffee, the flavored creamer has sugar in it.

Juices are high in sugar, and can also cause tooth decay if the patient consumes enough of the juices. Power drinks are also high in sugar. Water is the best liquid to re-hydrate during and after exercise.

Mints and chewing gum cause cavities if a patient makes a habit of keeping them in their mouth. Substitute a sugarless product for the breath mint or chewing gum you are using. Cough drops can cause decay also. Some of the worst cases of decay throughout a patients mouth that Dr. Clepper has ever seen were caused by cough drop use.

One of the myths now is that tooth decay is rare because of fluoride in toothpaste. Advertising by soft drink companies has been very successful and soft drink consumption is at an all time high. Grocery stores and convenience stores sell soft drinks as a loss leader at very low prices to get customers in the store. Convenience stores and fast food restaurants offer very large sizes of soft drinks.

Dr. Clepper has observed a disturbing trend in the past 10 or 15 years. Teenagers get hooked on their favorite brand of soft drinks when they are in high school. After high school, whether they go to college or get a job, their soft drink consumption usually doubles or triples, because they no longer have parental controls. By the time these patients are in their mid 20s they may not have seen a dentist since they were 17 or 18 years of age. When they do come in to see a dentist, they have been drinking 3-6 soft drinks a day for 6 or 7 years. The decay Doug Clepper, DMD and other dentists see in many of these patients is so rampant that the patient is faced with having to have 8-12 root canals and crowns, or an equal number of extractions. These patients are starting out in their careers, so extensive dentistry places a real financial hardship on them.