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However, even when drinking through a straw, the teeth located in the back of the mouth are still bathed with sugary and acidic liquids. "Try rinsing your mouth with water after drinking, and use toothpaste that contains fluoride," advises AGD spokesperson Paula Jones, DDS, FAGD. "Your teeth aren't thirsty, your throat is."
Soft drinks contain one or more acids, commonly phosphoric and citric acids. Non-colas and canned iced teas also contain flavor additives, such as malic, tartaric and other organic acids, which are more aggressive at eroding teeth. These acids erode dental enamel, the thin outer layer of hard tissue that helps maintain the tooth structure and shape, while protecting it from decay.
A dentist can tell when a patient gets cavities from drinking acidic beverages, such as soft drinks, since the decayed areas are often darker in color and take up more space on the tooth. The cavities also often appear near the gumline. "Enjoying an occasional soft drink in moderation will likely not cause significant damage," says Dr. Bassiouny. "However, substituting these beverages as a replacement for water may cause significant, irreversible long-term problems and damage."
Dr. Jones also encourages patients who have cavities caused by erosion to substitute a glass of water for one soft drink every day and increase the water for soft drinks, until the soft drink intake has been severely limited.
Reviewed: January 2012
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