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Sugar-related tooth decay

About soft drinks

Over the last few years, statistics have shown that daily consumption of sugary beverages is on the rise. A child can sometimes drink up to six or seven soft drinks per day. The average American will annually intake more than 23 pounds of sugar from soft drinks.

Contrary to popular belief, diet or so-called “sugar-free” soft drinks are as harmful for your teeth because of their highly acidic levels.

As for energy drinks made for athletes but most popular amongst teenagers, their sugar concentration is a lot higher than juice or other fruity drinks and they should be replaced with juice made from real fruits or, even better, pure water.

Sugar-related tooth decay process

Drinking soda or other sugary or acid beverages contributes to the long-term deterioration of the enamel that protects your teeth, even if you brush correctly and floss.

Two processes come into play when sugar-related cavities are formed: first, eroding is caused by the direct contact between an acidic liquid and your teeth. Then, more acidity is produced by the bacteria that develop around your teeth when in contact with sugar. This creates the perfect environment for the softening and decaying of the enamel or the exposed root.

Higher risk factors

  • longer exposure period
  • presence of dental decay, crowns and fillings
  • reduced saliva secretion (medication, radiation or xerostomia)
  • genetics
  • personal sensitivity
  • poor dental hygiene
  • insufficient fluoridation
  • overlapping teeth
  • presence of deep pit and fissures

The effects of tooth decay

During the dental decay process, the external layer of the tooth, the enamel, thins up to the point of disappearing, leaving a spotted and soft surface. Certain teeth even show small holes along the gum. Left untreated, tooth decay can lead to more important problems that may necessitate endodontics treatments, or a crown, or could lead to tooth loss or severe infections.

Excessive consumption of sugary foods can cause more damage than dental decay, namely it can lead to obesity and cause diabetes, bone decalcification, renal calculus, osteoporosis and a decline in general health as it replaces other foods with beneficial nutritive value.


  • Reduce the number of soft drinks and sugary or acid beverages that you consume, particularly if you are wearing braces.
  • Replace soft drinks with other kinds of beverages, preferably water.
  • Look for the presence of sugar in the food you consume by reading labels. Sugar is sometimes identified as: high-fructose corn syrup, glucose and dextrose.
  • Ask your dentist for a fluoride solution prescription that will reinforce your enamel.

Sugar-related tooth decay treatment

Even if treated, dental decay could reappear if you keep on drinking large quantities of soft drinks. Caries located near and around the teeth are hard to treat and often necessitate a crown. In most cases, regular cleaning by a dental professional and fluoride treatments combined with brushing and flossing help minimize the risk of cavities.

To prevent dental decay, reduce your daily consumption of soft drinks by gradually replacing them with beverages with no added sugar. Intake frequency of soft drinks is more damaging than quantity.

Drink liquids low in sugar and acid and make sure you keep a good dental hygiene by brushing your teeth, flossing and taking regular appointments with your dentist. If you have any questions related to your consumption of soft drinks and oral health, contact our dental team.