When you’re thirsty, what do you reach for? If you’re like a growing majority of Americans, more often than not you reach for a can or bottle of pop.
Soft drinks make up 27 percent of all the beverages Americans drink. That’s an astounding $54 billion spent on 14 billion gallons of “liquid candy.”
Since teenagers are some of the biggest pop drinkers around, this is cause for concern. Teenagers today drink twice as much pop as milk, which means they may not be getting the vitamins, minerals and protein they need.
What they are getting is a large dose of sugars and other unhealthy additives that can lead to tooth decay. The sugar in soft drinks combine with the bacteria in the mouth to produce acid that can destroy the teeth. You’re at even greater risk if you sip pop throughout the day, since that exposes your teeth to the sugars and acids for longer periods and is even more likely to result in tooth decay.
And don’t think that by drinking diet pop, you’re saving your teeth. Diet pop contains the same acids as regular varieties, and can erode away the enamel on your teeth as well as cause decay.
So what can you do to reduce your risk of decay? Obviously, you need to cut down on the amount of soda you drink. Next time you’re thirsty, reach for milk or water, or even a thirst quenching fruit like grapes, watermelon or apples. Here are some other tips:
- Avoid sipping soft drinks throughout the day. Instead, drink them in a short time with food or as part of a meal.
- If you can’t brush, rinse your mouth with water after drinking pop.
- Eat foods that are high in sugar or are sticky and more likely to cause tooth decay during meals rather than between meals.
- Brush and floss regularly to remove the plaque that can lead to tooth decay.
- Ask your Michigan Dental Association dentist about the use of fluoride products to lessen further decay.
No one’s saying you need to eliminate soft drinks from your diet. But use them sparingly – making them the treat they were originally intended to be.