Adverse effects on health and teeth due to carbonated soda drinks / soft drinks

Whether it’s a short respite from your work on a hot summer afternoon or a meeting with your college friend after many years, carbonated soda drinks are essentially one of the drinks you consume. Some of the few to name are: Cocacola, Fanta, Sprite, Pepsi, Mountain Dew , Mirinda, etc.
These go harmoniously with any casual fast foods like mo:mo: , chowmein, pizza, burger, etc. So, it’s not absurd if you find yourself drinking 2-3 drinks daily on a regular basis.

But, you might want to know few things about these so called soft drinks, because they are necessarily not as soft as you might have assumed
based on their nomenclature. Let’s see some of the facts that might facilitate you understand my assertion.

Enamel, supposedly the hardest structure of human body is the outer hard layer of dental hard tissue which environs the underlying dentin and pulp. Enamel consists of enamel rods and inter-rods which are chiefly inorganic hydroxyapatite crystals along with trace amount of organic compounds and water. Once formed, the enamel forming cells, i.e. ameloblasts degenerate and hence enamel is not formed throughout life. However, the tooth enamel is a very dynamic structure that mineralizes and demineralizes throughout your life due to change of pH of oral cavity and constituents of saliva. Dentin, the inner layer is more susceptible to acid demineralization (about 10 times more) as compared to enamel. The critical pH for dentin and enamel are 6.5 and 5.5 respectively which means that exposed dentin starts demineralizing as soon as the pH of oral cavity falls below 6.5 and enamel starts demineralizing below the pH 5.5. Though normally covered by enamel, dentin may be exposed in a number of conditions like attrition, erosion, dental caries, tooth fracture, etc.

What do all this have to do with the carbonated soft drinks then? The carbonated drinks are packed under high pressure with carbon dioxide which is soluble in an aqueous medium to form a weak diprotic acid carbonic acid (H2CO3). Though termed weak acid, the carbonic acid still dissolved in the drink has the potential to lower pH of the oral cavity as low as 4. Hence, carbonic acid is not a weak acid actually because our purportedly tough enamel also succumbs to this pH leading to tooth demineralization. It takes nearly about twenty minutes before our homeostatic mechanisms and buffers of saliva restore the pH to normal. Now, you might have already imagined how much detrimental are carbonated drinks to your dental health.

Besides, these beverages contain a large amount of calories, almost all of which is derived from  sugars as you can observe in the label of “Fanta” here. Out of the total 174 calories obtained per 375 ml of drink, about 168 calories are derived from sugar assuming 4 calories energy is derived per gram of carbohydrate. So, these drinks have high cariogenic property making you more prone to dental caries and its sequela. Due to high sugar levels, glucose tolerance may be impaired and diabetes may be precipitated in high risk individuals. It can also aggravate the symptoms in individuals with peptic ulcer disease.

Even after being cognizant of the health hazards of these drinks, we cannot avoid them completely. We cannot turn down our old high school’s friend’s offer to soda drinks. Similarly, a warm hospitality and drink offered by the hosts in a family as well as business visits cannot be denied for one reason or other. I don’t mean to be a killjoy persuading you to avoid them completely. You can enjoy them, of course, taking care of your oral and overall health. Make sure you rinse your mouth vigorously after having a drink next time so that you enjoy the drink at that particular moment and in the subsequent days and years too. Take Care!

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