Soft drinks, including regular and diet soda pop, fruit drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks, weaken tooth enamel. They are even harder on teeth with orthodontic “appliances,” such as braces or aligners. It is recommended that you avoid soft drinks during your orthodontic treatment so that your teeth stay healthy and strong, and you finish your treatment with a good bite and a healthy, beautiful smile.
Soft drinks contain acids. Acid pulls calcium out of the enamel, making the tooth soft to the touch. Acid dissolves tooth enamel, a process called “decalcification,” and can lead to cavities. Once enamel dissolves, it does not come back. The loss is permanent.
Plaque is a sticky, colorless film made up of bacteria, food debris and saliva that constantly forms on your teeth. Plaque uses sugar and starches as food, and expels acid as a by-product, creating a stain on the surface of the tooth. If plaque is not removed regularly by brushing and flossing, the build-up can lead to decalcification, cavities, gum disease, and loss of the bone that holds teeth in place. Coupled with acid that is present in soft drinks, drinking liquids containing sugar doubles the risk to tooth enamel.
White marks like these on teeth are the result of decalcification, and are permanent. If you don’t remove the plaque that collects around brackets, between teeth and under the gums, decalcification can be evident within four months.
Liquids seep into aligners when you take a drink, and the liquid is held against the teeth until the aligner is removed. If the liquid contains acid, the prolonged exposure accelerates damage to teeth. This can lead to extensive decay (pictured above, right) and the need for expensive restorations that may need to be repeated periodically over a lifetime.
If you have any questions about post-orthodontal care, please be sure to contact us. We will be glad to help