Dr. Pearl E. Whites
Does My Dentist Drink Soda?
Updated: Aug 18, 2022
In fact, you would think it contradictory at our monthly dental meetings where us local dentists in Medford and Grants Pass gather for continuing education and all of us except a rare few due to dietary principles will order some sort of fizzy beverage.
Hypocrites? Not if you understand how cavities work per say.
Since 1995 research has come out clarifying what causes cavities.
I know you’re already thinking, “It’s sugar obviously!” and you’re right...sort of. It’s a similar misconception just like some of your friends who may call dental anesthetic “novocaine,” which hasn’t been used in dental practice since 1948. So let’s simplify how this cavity thing works.
Here’s the 411 on how cavities form and when you could still drink soda and be ok.
Quick science lesson: the pH scale measures acidic and basic (alkaline) contents ranging from a score of 0-14. Our mouth’s resting pH in a healthy person is commonly around neutral--roughly 7pH. Whenever we eat mostly anything our mouth becomes acidic. There are at least 60+ different species of anaerobic bacteria in our mouth that start to form cavities yet they can only do their thing if the mouth reaches that acidic level under 5.5pH. Your saliva is a huge factor in preventing cavities and your saliva faucet on your first bite or sip quickly turns on to return your pH back to a non-cavity loving environment, which can take around 30 minutes to return to neutral after you have finished eating.
Sugars themselves are a very alkaline ingredient but the byproducts form into lactic acid in your mouth and that is very acidic. Most sodas have an acidic pH of 2-4.5.
So when is it “safest” to drink sodas to have less detriment on your teeth? During a meal when you’re already eating. This is the time when your mouth is already acidic. In fact, the worst time to drink soda is in between meals (i.e. 2:30pm). Snacking is probably a bigger risk factor than worrying about tempering how much sugar you are eating in a day. Reason being your mouth
will never have time to reach that neutral pH if you’re bombarding your mouth constantly throughout the day with foods. This would cause your mouth to always stay acidic and the cavity-causing bacteria will be having a party all day and night just like Woodstock--not a pretty picture.
Of course, not drinking soda will make it harder to get cavities but then you’re taking some happiness out of life. Drink responsibly.