What are Fizzy Drinks doing to your Teeth?

If you follow my Facebook page you may be familiar with this picture.

We all lecture our patients about the dangers of high sugar and acidic diets, not only for our teeth but for our general health!

But sometimes I feel like patients tune us out - they are fed up with the lecturing and being told off. They need something more concrete to discourage bad health habits; that's why some of these health documentaries on TV really do work!

On one of my non-clinical days at work, I set up a little experiment: What is the effect of popular drinks on our teeth?

I set up 3 cups with equal amounts of Coca Cola, Milkshake and Orange Juice. The experiment was mostly looking at the effects of the acid in these drinks, as it is hard to simulate the effects of the sugars in these drinks without the presence of the oral micro-flora (i.e. the bacteria that cause decay).

The sugar content in each of these drinks is pretty shocking - per 100ml of each drink there is:

10.6g in Coca Cola

9.8g in the Milkshake

8g in Orange Juice

Watch this video to see a visual representation of how much sugar that actually is!

I left each tooth is the drink over a weekend - there wasn't too much change in the appearance in the milkshake tooth or the juice tooth, but check out the one that was left in the Coca Cola. 

Before picture of the tooth

The effect of a weekend submerged in Coca Cola
This damage by the Coca Cola is due it's very low pH of 2.5. So not only does Coca Cola expose your teeth to high sugar levels and cause tooth decay, but the low pH of the phosphoric acid wears away your teeth!

There's a big push with the government to reduce the rates of tooth decay in children. As I've said in a previous post, the biggest admission to hospitals for children is to have teeth taken out under general anaesthetic which is shocking!

Top Tips to Protect your Teeth

  • Reduce intake of fizzy drinks and other high sugar foods or drinks. You shouldn't be having more than 3 intakes of high sugar foods and drink a day
  • If you find it hard to cut down, have the high sugary foods or drinks with a meal because you've already stimulated your saliva to be produced which can buffer the high acids and protect your teeth
  • Drink high sugar drinks through a straw to minimise contact with your teeth
  • Avoid brushing your teeth for half an hour after an acidic drink to avoid brushing the acid into your teeth
  • Avoid taking any drink apart from water to bed with you and avoid late night consumption of acidic or sugary drinks
  • Drink milk or water between meals
  • Chew sugar free chewing gum after sugary intakes to stimulate saliva production

Are you a coke addict? Or conducted an experiment like this before? Please leave your comments in the section below!


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