Dental Tips |3 min read

Could Your Sugar Habit Be Wreaking Havoc on Your Oral Health?

We all know that sugary, acidic drinks aren’t great for our teeth. This is hardly breaking news.

But soda, fruit juice, and sports drinks are so common that they can’t be that bad in moderation, right? Especially if you practice great oral health habits otherwise?

Sorry. Wrong.

According to recent research…Opens in a new window to study…, acidic drinks cause lifelong, irreversible damage to the teeth within just 30 seconds of consumption.


These findings demonstrate that acidic beverages erode teeth even faster than researchers previously thought.

Here’s what you need to know about the dangers of sugary drinks, especially if you’re a parent.

Woman with red lipstick drinking soda from a straw.

A warning to parents

This threat to oral health is especially problematic in children and young people whose teeth are still developing.

Take it from Dr. Sarbin Ranjitkar, a dental researcher at the University of Adelaide…Opens in a new window to university homepage…:

“Our research has shown that permanent damage to the tooth enamel will occur within the first 30 seconds of high acidity coming into contact with the teeth. This is an important finding, and it suggests that such drinks are best avoided.”

What if you brush your teeth shortly after consuming acidic drinks? Not so fast.

Dr. Ranjitkar continues:

“If high acidity drinks are consumed, it is not simply a matter of having a child clean their teeth an hour or 30 minutes later and hoping they’ll be okay – the damage is already done,”

More than one threat

Excessive soda and sugar consumption cause tooth erosion in children and young adults.

Unfortunately, the damage doesn’t stop there.

To make matters worse, a sugar-filled diet can also lead to acid reflux, which further erodes enamel, especially at night.

Nighttime teeth grinding is often part of the mix too.

When combined, these three factors accelerate enamel loss and tooth erosion.

This means that before many people can even get to the dentist, they already lose large amounts of enamel.

What can you do to protect your oral health?

While kicking a sugar habit is tough, the good news is that there are more options than ever to swap out for healthier options.

For example, flavored, sugar-free seltzer waters are a popular and healthier alternative to soda.

Try drinks and foods flavored with natural sweeteners such as stevia and xylitol.

Love fruit juice?

Sorry to break it to you – fruit juice isn’t as healthy as it may seem. Fruit juices are usually full of added sugar and are highly acidic.

Instead, eat real, whole fruit.

If you suffer from acid reflux, eating a pH-balanced diet helps. That means go heavy on the fruits, veggies, and other whole foods while limiting the highly-processed meals.

Seeking further treatment from your personal physician for acid reflux will have huge benefits for your oral health as well.

As for the teeth grinding, mouth guards and other therapies are available to protect your teeth while you sleep.

A trusted dentist can help you find a great, comfortable device to stop the long-term damage caused by chronic teeth-grinding.

We’re here to help

It’s no secret that sugar wrecks havoc on the body, especially your teeth! Limiting your sugar intake is one of the best things you can do for your health. 

Remember: Your oral health is the gateway to your overall health. In other words, healthy teeth equals a healthy body.

If you need help getting your sugar consumption, acid reflux, or teeth grinding issues under control, our dentist in Gurnee, IL can help.

We offer great solutions and enlist the help of a qualified physician when necessary.

Take the next steps towards a healthier, happier life. Schedule your consultation with Dr. Bradley Rule today!

Our office is conveniently located in Gurnee, IL and proudly serves surrounding communities, including Grayslake, Lindenhurst, Wadsworth, Libertyville, Lake Villa, Waukegan, Antioch, Vernon Hills, Winthrop Harbor, and Mundelein.


Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2014 and has been completely revamped for comprehensiveness and timeliness.


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