Can Soda Be As Bad for Your Teeth as Meth?

Can Soda Be As Bad for Your Teeth as Meth?

Drinking diet soda might not only help you maintain the slim figure of a meth addict, but it could also help you achieve the much less desirable toothless look known as “meth mouth.” It’s pretty well known that soda is not great for your teeth, but the extent of the potential damage it can do was highlighted in vivid detail recently in a study published by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).

The study compared the mouths of three people addicted to different substances: meth, crack cocaine and diet soda. The 29-year-old meth addict in the study had been abusing the drug for three years, the 51-year-old crack addict had been using for 18 years, and the 30-something soda addict had been drinking two liters of diet soda daily for three to five years. In the end, the study found little difference in the amount of tooth decay between the three subjects. All three mouths looked horrifying — and needed every single tooth extracted — but all three also “had poor oral hygiene and did not visit the dentist on a regular basis,” so that would probably account for a good portion of the wear and tear.

The American Beverage Association seems to think so, stating, “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.” The ABA certainly has a point; after all, just looking into three people’s mouths isn’t a terribly scientific study. However, the possibility that soda can cause anywhere near the amount of damage of meth or cocaine is worth noting.

The problem with soda — diet or regular — is not the sugar you’d expect would harm your teeth, but rather the citric acid. It breaks down the protective enamel on teeth, much like the corrosive ingredients in meth and crack cocaine, allowing cavities, cracks and discoloration to form.

But there is reason for optimism. First, those of you who drink less than two liters of soda a day or have been to the dentist in the past 20 years already have a leg up on the soda addict in the study. Second, study author Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny has a couple of tips for you soda drinkers: 1) if you consume more soda than water, you’re drinking too much soda (or, I suppose, too little water), and 2) after you drink soda, wash away the acid on your teeth by either rinsing your mouth with water or chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol, a sweetener that stimulates saliva (which can rise away the acid).

(Sources: CBS News, New York Daily News)