Regular Soda vs. Diet Soda

Is diet soda better for my teeth than regular soda?

Many people choose to drink diet soda in an effort to decrease calories and manage their weight.  Some people assume having less sugar in their diet will naturally cut down on tooth decay, too.  In some cases, this is true.  For example, substituting carrots for cookies is a great idea.  However, changing from regular to diet soda does NOT prevent cavities.

It is commonly believed that sugar is the only cause of cavities.  That’s not quite true.  Sugar is a necessary ingredient for making a cavity, but almost all food breaks down into sugar when left on teeth.  When the bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugar, they give off a waste product that is very acidic; this acid is actually what eats holes in teeth and creates cavities.

The reason diet soda can still lead to tooth problems even though it doesn’t contain sugar is due to its acidity.  The acidity of soda actually bypasses the normal route to cavities and can jump-start the process of developing holes in teeth.  All sodas, whether regular, mid-calorie or diet, are acidic.  The acid found in these drinks can create cavities and damage your teeth whether they are high or low in sugar content.

It is reasonable to expect most people to enjoy a soda from time to time.  The best way to protect your teeth after drinking soda is to finish the drink in about half an hour and then brush your teeth to remove any remaining acid.  If brushing is not possible at least rinse your mouth well with water after drinking.

If you sip on soda, regular or diet, throughout the entire day then the acid in the soda will be able to consistently eat away at your teeth.  Just imagine your teeth sitting in acid all day.  It would be impossible for people with great brushing and flossing habits to overcome the harsh acid they are exposing their teeth to all day.  Over time, this continued exposure can break down the protective enamel on the outside of the tooth and lead to cavities.

Choosing diet soda over regular soda may have an effect on your waistline, but there appears to be no advantage for your teeth.