Life is stressful- especially when having to juggle work, family life, health and your diet in the middle of a pandemic! Sometimes all you want is your favourite fizzy drink, or energy drink for a quick pick-me-up. An easy fix to curb your carbonated cravings might be diet or sugar free alternatives of your beverages of choice. However, what happens when these diet-friendly, unsweetened drinks are even less sweet for your teeth… and we’re not just talking about their lack of sugar…

Taking good care of your teeth and gums not only applies to your daily brushing and flossing routine, but your diet as well. 

Your diet strongly impacts your mouth health. Specifically, the types of drinks you consume to quench your thirst. 

In the UK, studies have shown that people are choosing diet fizzy drinks and energy drinks, over packaged water. 

The Natural Source Waters Association (NSWA) stated that in 2019, there was a decline in natural source water sales, and an increase in diet carbonated soft drinks and energy drinks.

According to the NSWA, “diet fizzy drinks benefited most, with diet colas alone taking 6.5m litres of sales from the natural source water category.”

But why are people opting for the sugar-free fizz?

The Unsweetened Truth

Advertising may be a factor when choosing a can of diet soda, over a bottle of water. It can imply that these types of drinks are better alternatives to regular fizzy beverages, because of the use of buzz words such as “diet” and “sugar free”. While these words may signify that they are healthy for your body- are they healthy for your mouth? 

You may be choosing “diet friendly” or “sugar free” drinks to manage your weight and sugar intake, but these types of drinks are not in fact good for your teeth. 

Dr. Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation states these drinks are harmful to health and overall well-being because of their acidity and ability to deteriorate tooth enamel.

Therefore, consumers must be aware that although the drinks may not contain sugar, their acidity can still be detrimental, leading to cavities and problems over time to your overall mouth health. 

So how can you be sure to keep your teeth happy and cavity free?

Finding the (pH) Balance

All food and drink you consume has specific acidity, or pH levels. These levels can indicate the acidity in your mouth as being positive or negative to your overall mouth health. 

It is recommended to keep mouth acidity to a minimum, with a neutral pH level of 7 and above.

Levels under 7 are considered highly acidic and can be detrimental to your teeth. 

For example, water has a very close pH number to the neutral level of 7. Meaning, it is the safest drink to consume for preventing cavities and ensuring your mouth is healthy. 

Carbonated drinks on the other hand, have a pH level between 2.5-3, meaning they are dangerously under the safe zone of 7 or higher. 

It’s important to remember that sugar isn’t always the culprit when it comes to your mouth health, and certain beverages labelled “diet” or “sugar free”, may not be as harmless as they seem. 

If you can’t part with your fizzy beverages and energy drinks, the safest way to drink them is through a straw to limit contact with the surfaces of your teeth. We also recommend rinsing your mouth out with water afterwards, to help neutralise the mouth and prevent prolonged exposure to the high acidity levels. 

When it comes to keeping your mouth happy, healthy, and free of cavities, it’s best to just grab some water.

We hope everyone is staying happy, healthy and hydrated!

The Drinks That Ain't So Sweet