Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Put Down the Soda! Why Your Favorite Drink is Damaging Your Mouth


Sugary soft drinks are notoriously bad for your teeth because they form a sticky bond on the enamel that allows bacteria and plaque to wreak their havoc. See more cool foods and drinks pictures.
©iStockphoto/Arthur Carlo Franco

The sun is high in the sky; it's 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade and you've been working in the yard for hours. You come inside, take off your dusty, grimy gardening gloves, and open the fridge. Reaching for a can of your favorite soda, you flip open the lid, enjoying the sound of that unmistakable pop. Slowly, patiently, you pour the soda over a tall glass of ice, watching the bubbles rush to the surface. You lift the glass to your lips, anticipating the cool, invigorating relief your drink will bring as it begins to quench your thirst. But wait! Have you ever thought about what that ice cold beverage is doing to your teeth and gums? You might want to put down that glass.

Fizzy sodas are marketed as fun, refreshing beverages for beautiful, active people. But can frequent soda drinkers really expect to have gleaming white smiles like the ones we see in the ads, or is your beloved glass of bubbles doing more damage to your mouth than you think?

Most non-diet sodas contain the same basic combination of ingredients: carbonated water (which gives the soda its familiar fizz), sugar or corn syrup, artificial coloring, natural or artificial flavoring, and either phosphoric acid, citric acid or both. Diet sodas replace the sugars and corn syrups with an artificial sweetener such as aspartame or sucralose, but the other ingredients essentially remain the same.

So what is it about soda that makes it so bad for our teeth? And are sugar-free diet sodas any better than the regular variety? Read on before you take your next sip!


More to Explore