Diet soda as bad for teeth as meth, dentists prove

Diet soda addicts, beware: heavy consumption of the highly acidic drinks can cause tooth damage that resembles the effects of methamphetamine or crack cocaine.

Those who drink large amounts of diet soda for long periods of
time often experience tooth erosion, rotting, decay and other
types of oral damage — in many cases just as bad or worse as the
effects experienced by long-term drug users, according to a new
study published in the journal General
Dentistry.  

You look at it side-to-side with ‘meth mouth’ or ‘coke
mouth,’ it is startling to see the intensity and extent of damage
more or less the same,”
Dr. Mohammed Boussiouny, a professor
of restorative dentistry at the Temple University School of
Dentistry, told Health Day News.

The study references a woman in her 30’s who drank about two
liters of diet soda every day for 3-5 years and suffered from
eroded teeth that resembled those of a 29-year-old meth addict
who had been taking drugs for three years and a 51-year-old crack
cocaine user who had an 18-year-history drug abuse.

The woman’s teeth were soft, discolored and eroded, and dentists
were unable to save any of the affected teeth. The woman had no
choice but to have every last tooth removed and replaced with
dentures.

 “None of the teeth affected by erosion were
salvageable,”
Boussiouny said.

The woman had been drinking diet soda for years because she was
worried that regular soda would cause her to gain weight. She was
aware of the risks associated with consuming artificially
sweetened beverages, but admitted that she hadn’t seen a dentist
in years.

The American Beverage Association responded to the results of the
study, defending the consumption of diet soda and telling Health
Day News that the woman’s lack of dentist visits was the primary
cause of her tooth decay.

 “The woman referenced in this article did not receive
dental health services for more than 20 years — two-thirds of her
life,”
the group said in a statement. “To single out diet
soda consumption as the unique factor in her tooth decay and
erosion — and to compare it to that from illicit drug use — is
irresponsible…. The body of available science does not support
that beverages are a unique factor in causing tooth decay or
erosion.”

But Dr. Eugene Antenucci, a spokesman for the Academy of General
Dentistry, said he has seen the effects of diet soda in many
addicts, and explained that some of them experienced “very
deep brown stains, where it’s actually eroded into the tooth, and
the teeth are soft and leathery.”

Most diet soda consumers will never see such effects, but to
ensure clean and healthy teeth, Antenucci advises that they wash
away the acidity of the substance with water after drinking soda,
brushing their teeth at least twice daily and drinking in
moderation.

Diet soda — like crack cocaine and meth — is highly acidic, which
wears away enamel and causes teeth to become susceptible to
cavities. Colas, for example, have erosive potential 10 times
that of fruit juice, according to a previous 2007 study published
in General Dentistry.  This study found that teeth
immersed in Coke, Pepsi, RC Cola, Squirt, Surge, 7 Up and Diet 7
Up lost more than five percent of their weight, due to enamel
erosion. The most acidic soft drink studied at the time was RC
Cola, which had a pH of 2.387. Cherry Coke had a pH level of
2.522 and Coke had a pH level of 2.525. Battery acid, in
comparison, has a pH level of 1.0, and pure water has a pH level
of 7.0.

Thomas P. Connelly, a New York-based cosmetic dentist, says that
diet soda consumers tend to drink more of the substance than
those who consume regular sodas, which is often a factor in their
tooth erosion. With many Americans convinced that the sugar-free
drinks will prevent them from gaining weight, they can quickly
become addicted and self-inflict tooth damage, like drug users.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, ‘I’m addicted to diet
coke’ from a patient,”
he wrote in a Huffington Post blog.
“Even though it has sugar, I’d almost rather see people drink
regular pop, because I’m convinced that one or two regular pops
are less damaging than seven of the diet version (again, people
who drink diet soda tend to drink a lot of it). But truthfully,
I’d rather see people drink neither.”  

This article originally appeared on: RT