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Oral Hygiene Rules for Soda Drinkers

The acid in soda causes tooth decay.

It has come to the attention of the dental world that people like drinking soda. They like it so much that they do it without regard to warnings from the dental community. Soda drinkers are like smokers -- they're hooked before they know what hit them. The first one is painless, nothing happens. Suddenly they start waking up in the night to get their fix and they wonder who or what is in control.

Dental hygienists have a bad reputation for nagging. It's not undeserved, just unfortunate. They know a lot about prevention - they went to college to learn about prevention in regards to the mouth. So, naturally when they see a lifestyle that causes oral disease, they want to educate (or nag) people into change. If you're drinking enough soda to cause tooth decay they feel compelled to get you to stop!

Soda pop is harmful to teeth on two levels. First, the sugar in the soda feeds the plaque that accumulates on teeth. The bacteria feed off the sugars and convert it to acid. The acid is what causes breakdown in the enamel. Secondly, soda pop is very high in acid on its own. Citric acid is the most detrimental to enamel, followed by the rest of them. The most popular sodas on the market today contain citric and phosphoric acid; the diet versions compensate for flavor by adding even more acids. All are very good enamel dissolvers. Throw in the part where the bacteria in the biofilm thrives in acid, and the recipe is made for disaster.

Can you already tell how to survive with all your teeth and still be a soda drinker? By following the 10 little rules below, you can safely drink your favorite beverage.

  • Drink it fast
  • Use a straw
  • Brush teeth twice a day until all the stuff that looks like paste is off
  • Use a power brush
  • Rinse with tap water (a good source of flouride) after
  • Use a high concentration fluoride once daily
  • Have professionally applied fluoride four times a year
  • Chew gum with RecaldentTM or xylitol in it
  • Have a dental exam four times a year
  • Start a savings account to pay for all the fillings

Using a straw and drinking the beverage fast will decrease the chance of getting it on the teeth where the plaque lives, in case you weren't effective in getting it off with a toothbrush. Acid baths increase with frequent sugar intake -- the bacteria use up the sugar, so you just have to spit out acid for about 20 minutes every time sugar comes around. If you chug a can of soda in 10 minutes, the acid bath will be finished in 30 minutes. If it takes 60 minutes to sip it, the acid bath will last nearly 90 minutes.

The majority of the problems come if there is plaque or biofilm on the teeth. Eliminating the bacteria decreases the chance of decay from any source. Using a power brush or scientifically designed manual tooth brush will increase brushing effectiveness, helping to attain plaque-free teeth.

Fluoride is essential in maintaining sound enamel. Recent reports from scientists and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention now say that swallowing fluoride is almost worthless. Fluoride is effective if it comes in contact with the enamel -- frequency is the key, not concentration. Fluoridated water is effective in reducing decay rates because it washes over teeth (providing frequent low doses of fluoride not because it's swallowed).

This is not to say that high concentrations of fluoride are not helpful. Rinsing or brushing with a fluoride concentration over the amount in toothpaste can really help seal over decay that is just starting. Using a variety of home and professionally applied fluorides can keep decay at bay. New on the market is RecaldentTM. It is an ingredient found in two of the Trident® gums, Trident for KidsTM and Trident White®. This ingredient, made from the casein in milk, doubles the enamel repair rate over that of sugarless gum without it.

Lastly, visit the dentist often. Decay is sneaky. Pain arrives only when the decay is very advanced. Dentistry has a number of tools available to test specific areas for decay and fix them before they become painful. A small filling today will need to be replaced periodically. And each time that happens the filling gets a little bigger. If you have to drink soda, follow these simple rules and chances are that you can put off decay.

If you need a dentist who is good with children, call us at 1-866-970-0441. We'll put you in touch with a great dentist today!

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