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Worldwide consumption of carbonated soft drinks/sodas is in billions of liters.
The US leads the field with the average American consuming around 54 gallons of carbonated soft drinks in one year (American Beverage Association).
Everyone – adult or young – enjoy them and it is more popular than milk, water or coffee.
Before we go ahead and discuss how it can harm your teeth, it is important to find out what it contains. As it is the ingredients of soft drinks which are responsible for its side effects.
Ingredients in Soft Drinks
Carbonated soft drinks mostly contain additives for flavoring or as a preservative and rarely contain any kind of nutrients in them.
The basic ingredient in soft drinks and sodas (this does not include fruit juices) is water, sweetener, flavor, and acid.
These ingredients are broadly divided into two categories – Food substances like sugars, starches or fruit juices and additives. Additives are usually a preservative or sweetener.
While the amount of food substances is not limited, the amount of additives is usually regulated by a government regulatory body.
The following are some of the key ingredients found in sodas and soft drinks.
- Acids: Acids are a key ingredient in sodas and soft drinks. It is added to improve flavor, balance sweetness and reduces the growth of micro-organisms like moulds, bacteria, and yeasts. Citric acid, malic acid, and phosphoric acid are the most commonly used acids in soft drinks. Phosphoric acid is the acid which is most frequently used in soft drinks. Teeth staining is said to be mainly caused by phosphoric acid.
- Carbon Dioxide: This is a tasteless gas and the amount that is added depends on how fizzy the drink is. Tonic water, for example, is highly carbonated while soft drinks like lemonades and colas are less carbonated.
- Colors: There are three categories of food colors which may be used in soft drinks – caramels, natural and artificial colors. Natural colors are got from vegetables and fruits or manufactured synthetically. Artificial colors are usually blue, red, green and yellow. They are tested and proved to be safe. However, there is an increasing preference for natural colors and the use of artificial colors is reducing. Caramels are commonly used in colas and are the most widely used of all colors.
- Additives: These are usually preservatives or sweeteners. Only additives with an ‘E’ number are considered safe for use for they have undergone thorough testing and are authorized for use in soft drinks.
- Other ingredients: These include flavorings, corn syrup, preservatives, sugars, and intense sweeteners.
Can Drinking Soda And Soft Drinks Stain My Teeth
Teeth staining occur due to the type of food we eat and drink, chewing or smoking tobacco
. Foods that are intensely colored or acidic can stain teeth more than less colored foods.
While many colored foods like tea, sauces (tomato, soy, curry), wine, berries (blackberries, blueberries, pomegranates, cherries), colored candies, coffee etc all stain teeth, colas, and other carbonated drinks cause more serious staining.
In fact, dentists suggest that if a certain food can stain a white tablecloth, then it can stain our teeth too. Chromogens and acidic ingredients are the two main culprits in staining teeth.
Chromogens are highly pigmented molecules that quickly adhere to tooth enamel and stain them.
Hence, foods high in chromogens can stain our teeth. Acidity in foods – especially found in soft drinks and sodas also have the potential to stain teeth and erode enamel.
They also have the ability to soften teeth temporarily making it easier for chromogens to adhere to teeth.
Tannins are another family of compounds that can cause staining by helping chromogens to latch on to enamel.
Sodas are both chromogen-rich and highly acidic. It is not just dark-colored colas but even lighter colored soft drinks and sodas that can stain teeth significantly.
Carbonated sodas and soft drinks contain high levels of acidity which is said to be as high as battery acid.
Sports drinks or energy drinks also contain high levels of acidity and this can soften tooth enamel and increase the chances of staining.
Phosphoric acid found mostly in carbonated soft drinks contributes to its tangy flavor.
Apart from causing enamel erosion, it is also bad for bone health and can cause deterioration of bones.
Colas are the most commonly drunk sodas all over the world. There are other ingredients in these cola drinks can easily stain teeth. Each serving of coke contains 9 tsp of sugar.
The bacteria in our mouth will eat this sugar and produce acids that stain teeth and erode tooth enamel. Caramel dye used in all colas and creates the deep brown color.
It does not add to the flavor but causes widespread staining of teeth. It contributes to both weakenings of tooth enamel and yellowing of teeth.
Apart from these ingredients, sodas and carbonated soft drinks also contain flavored additives that can increase erosion of tooth enamel.
You can avoid this type of teeth staining by limiting your consumption of these drinks. Alternate sports or energy drinks with water.
Teeth staining by sodas and soft drinks are usually in people who have a can of soda next to them at all times and keep sipping them throughout the day.
Even if you enjoy an occasional soda or soft drink, sipping it with a straw can minimize staining.
You can also rinse your mouth with water immediately to wash off any residue. Of course, regular and good dental hygiene – brushing and flossing – and regular visits to the dentist can maintain healthy teeth and gums.