Consumption of soft drinks has increased dramatically during the past several decades. In 1947 the average person consumed two cans of soft drinks per week, while the average person in 1997 consumed approximately twelve cans per week (nearly two cans per day). Additionally there is the introduction of new pre-packaged “coffee” and “tea” beverages, and “sports drinks” which can have a sugar content of as high as 20%. The greatest increase in consumption of these products has occurred with children and adolescents. Unfortunately, this change in diet has also increased the destruction of natural tooth structure.
The relationship of consumption of refined sugars and induction of dental decay is well established. But less known is the irreversible chemical erosion of hard dental tissues from the components of these commercial beverages. The primary destructive factor is the acid level. Acid concentrations in soft drinks are 10 to 50,000 times stronger than normal saliva! In addition to acid levels and sugar content, carbonation and other additives such as citric, phosphoric, and other organic acids affect the rate of enamel erosion. While studies found there is no difference between diet and regular sodas, the non-cola drinks were more destructive than the cola products and the “tea” beverages were also highly erosive.
While dental prevention has improved dramatically in the past decades, the rise in consumption of these beverages has resulted in many people, particularly in our younger generation, having serious dental problems,. Patients who have already sustained enamel erosion can be helped by dental bonding and other cosmetic techniques.