A Deeper Dive into Why Soda Is Bad for Your Teeth

March 10, 2022

You likely know that soda is bad for your teeth, but that doesn’t mean that you understand why this is the case. You may have a vague idea that the sugar in soda is to blame. While that’s part of it, that isn’t the whole story.

Take a closer look at why soda is bad for your teeth, whether diet soda is still a problem, and what options you have.

The Sugar in Soda

As mentioned, the sugar in soda plays a role in damaging your teeth. Anytime you consume sugar, it will interact with the bacteria in your mouth and encourage acid creation. That acid attacks your teeth, causing damage.

Some estimates say that every time you sip soda, the damaging reaction in your mouth lasts for about 20 minutes.

Soda Erodes Your Teeth

One of the big issues with drinking soda is that the acids in your drink will start to erode the tooth enamel. This is in addition to the damage from sugar-related acids.

This is important as your tooth enamel is the outermost layer of the tooth and is responsible for protecting the inner layers. Unfortunately, it means that your enamel becomes softer when you drink soda.

What About Fruit Juice and Sports Drinks?

If you also drink fruit juices and sports drinks, keep in mind that these cause similar damage to the enamel of your teeth.

Soda Causes Cavities

The other big issue with soda is that it can create cavities by damaging the dentin in your teeth or even your composite fillings. As a refresher, dentin is the next layer of your teeth.

Unfortunately, your dentin becomes more susceptible to damage when your enamel is damaged. This is part of the reason that it is so common for people who regularly drink soda to get cavities. The risk is even higher if you don’t brush and floss properly.

Even Sugar-free Soda Is a Problem

Given that sugar is one of the reasons that soda is bad for your teeth, you may be tempted to switch to sugar-free or diet sodas and call it good. But that isn’t a solution.

Unfortunately, sugar-free sodas have different acids that attack your teeth and cause similar damage.

Studies from Orla Health CRC found that sugar-free drinks still have low pH values and multiple acids that are bad for your teeth. For reference, the same is true of sugar-free sweets. The studies found that drinking diet soda will cause about the same erosion on your teeth as drinking a sugar-filled one.

In other words, switching to sugar-free won’t save your teeth. So you need to evaluate whether you want to make that switch based on other factors.

What If You Still Want to Drink Soda?

If you want to maximize your oral health, you should avoid any soda entirely. Instead, drink beverages that are easier on your teeth, such as water. You can also try unsweetened tea, diluted juice, plain sparkling water, or milk.

But most people don’t want to cut out soda. If this is true for you, you can do a few things to reduce the negative effects of the drink on your teeth.

Drink It Quickly

Remember that every sip you take of your soda can damage your teeth for 20 minutes. This means that one easy solution is to drink your soda fast instead of taking your time.

Simply put, drinking your soda more quickly reduces the time that the acids and sugars can damage your teeth.

The caveat, of course, is that you don’t get to savor the drink. The other caveat is that you should not use this as an excuse to drink more soda.

Rinse After

Right after you finish your soda, go ahead and rinse your mouth with a bit of water. This will wash off lingering acids and sugars. That should minimize their ability to attack your teeth.

Drink Less of It

The other obvious solution is to do what you can to limit your soda consumption. After all, the less you drink, the less time the acids and sugars are in your mouth to cause damage.

Use a Straw

If you drink your soda with a straw, you can minimize its contact with your teeth. You will hopefully end up with only very small quantities coming into contact with them instead of nearly all of your teeth and mouth.

Brush a Half-hour to Hour After

Your first instinct may be that brushing your teeth right after drinking soda would minimize the damage. However, this would expose your teeth to friction right after they were exposed to the damaging acids and sugars in the soda.

It’s better to give your teeth a bit of a break between the two attacks, so wait for a half-hour to an hour to brush. Remember to rinse your mouth out in the meantime.

But Definitely Brush!

While you should wait to brush your teeth after drinking soda, that doesn’t mean you should skip it. You want to brush your teeth after having soda or anything else loaded with sugar.

This means that you shouldn’t drink some soda before bed unless you know you will brush your teeth before you go to sleep. While it’s bad to leave soda lingering on your teeth during the day, it’s even worse at night, as the acids, sugars, and bacteria can damage your teeth all night long.

Don’t Forget Regular Cleanings and Checkups

Unsurprisingly, one of the best things you can do to reduce the impact of soda on your teeth is to make sure to have regular dental cleanings. The professional tools at Dr. Sharma’s office can get stubborn plaque and tartar off your teeth that you can’t get off at home. This makes regular cleanings essential. Your cleanings also give Dr. Sharma the chance to spot any potential oral health issues early when they are still easy to treat.


Soda contains both sugar and acids, the latter of which is also found in sugar-free sodas. This combination can lead to cavities as well as erosion of your tooth enamel, hurting your oral health. If you don’t want to give up your soda habit, try using a straw, drinking quickly, or rinsing your mouth immediately after. And don’t forget your regular dental cleanings. You can schedule an appointment with our dental office in Chicago today!


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