Why Diet Drinks May Cause Problems with Your Teeth

We all know that sugar is bad for our teeth, so if you’re a soda drinker, you may have been concerned about your habit ruining your smile. If you’ve switched to diet drinks, the problem is solved, right? Not so fast. Diet drinks have tooth-damaging effects of their own, sugar or no.  

What’s the problem with diet drinks? They’re fizzy, and that means they’re acidic. The acid used to create the bubbles that make soft drinks so appealing can also erode dental enamel. What’s more, sodas don’t have any nutritive value, and they’ve even been linked to type two diabetes, which can cause further dental problems.  

It also matters what you’re eating while you drink your diet drink. If you’re drinking diet drinks to allow you to splurge on sugar elsewhere, they’re really not improving your diet. If you’re drinking them between meals, the acid in these drinks can do more damage than if you drink them with a meal.  

What about seltzer or sparkling waters? Many people looking to break the soda habit have switched to bubbly waters as a healthier alternative. Does the acid in sparkling water damage your teeth? Different brands of seltzer and sparkling water have different levels of acidity, so they affect your teeth differently. Even the flavors can impact the acidity, with citrus flavors more acid than some others.   

If you want to know specifics about your preferred drink, you can get a pH testing kit and figure out exactly how acidic it really is. Tooth decay can occur at a pH level of 5.5, drinks with a level lower than 4 are considered erosive, and those under 3 are considered extremely erosive. Soft drinks, whether diet or otherwise, are usually in the 2-3 range, erosive to very erosive. Most sparkling waters fall in the minimally erosive range, with a pH higher than 4. Plain water? It’s the perfect thing to drink, with a balanced pH of right around 7, which is neutral.  

Ultimately, seltzer doesn’t really need to be offlimits, and it’s not the worst thing in the world if you occasionally indulge in a diet drink, as long as the rest of your diet is healthy. It’s smart to save your fizzy drinks for mealtimes, though, and drink plain water most of the time. To keep your teeth truly healthy you also need to eat a nutrient-dense diet, brush and floss regularly, and see your dentist for regular checkups.  

At Park 56 Dental Group, we provide personalized, quality dental care in a spa-like environment. We offer pediatric, prosthodontics, endodontics, oral surgery, Invisalign®, emergency, and sedation dentistry, all at the highest level of treatment. We serve the Midtown, Central Park, Upper East Side, Park Avenue, and all surrounding Manhattan and New York areas, with a patient-centered practice that has hours to fit your schedule. Schedule your complimentary consultation today by contacting us online or calling us at (212) 826-2322.