What do Powerade, Gatorade, Vitamin water, Lemonade, Energy drinks, Snapple and Sprite have in common?
They are all cavity causing if one consumes these popular drinks in large quantities.
Most people intrinsically realize that soda is bad for their teeth. The average middle school student (or at least my kid) has done the baby tooth in a cup of soda experiment, so in general most of us recognize that carbonated sugar water is highly acidic and can lead to one’s tooth slowly dissolving away.
A recent article in the Journal of the American Dental Association explores this even further, investigating the pH of hundreds of beverages. pH as one may recall from chemistry class, is a measure of acidity or alkalinity of a solution. Low pH (less than 4.0) can lead to the destruction of tooth structure even in the absence of cavity causing bacteria. In short – acidity in drinks is not healthy for your teeth.
It might come as a surprise to a lot of people that there the vast majority of commercially available drinks such as sports drinks, vitamin waters, and ‘healthy’ fruit juices have very low pH’s.
The most acidic beverages tested (all with a pH less than 2.4) were lemon juice, RC Cola, Coca-Cola Classic, Coca-Cola Cherry and Pepsi.
And the least ‘acidic’ beverage tested? Municipal water from Birmingham, Alabama which at a pH of 7.2 proves that when it comes to healthy teeth, water is the way to go.
For your viewing pleasure, here are tables taken from the actual article (Reddy, Avanija, Don F. Norris, Stephanie S. Momeni, Belinda Waldo, and John D. Ruby. “The PH of Beverages in the United States.” The Journal of the American Dental Association 147.4 (2016): 255-63. Web) showing the tested pH levels of most drinks from on the shelves of our grocery stores. Take a look and see where your favorite drink fits in.
The New York Times is always a good read. Recently, in honor of April Fools Day, it ran a series that highlighted common misconceptions and sought to debunk some of these common myths. Check out misconception #5.
The misconceptions (in no particular order) are:
- Exercise builds strong bones
- In an asteroid belt, spaceships have to dodge a fusillade of oncoming rocks
- The universe started somewhere
- Spree killers must be mentally ill
- Baby teeth don’t matter
- Climate change is not real because there is snow in my yard
- Migranes are psychological manifestations of women’s inability to manage stress and emotions
I certainly can’t claim to be an expert on osteoporosis, the mysteries of space, psychosis, the environment or migranes, so I’m in no position to rebut or support any of these common myths. But it is fair to say that I know a few things about Baby teeth. And yes, they do matter!