Soft drinks, even diet versions, along with energy, sports and fruit drinks, contain acids that can cause a lot of problems for patients under orthodontic care. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) highly recommends that patients in orthodontic treatment avoid acidic drinks which have low pH levels. They even put together a handout titled “Soft Drinks + Orthodontic Treatment = A Recipe for Disaster” which lists the pH levels of over 30 acidic drinks.
Water vs. Soft Drinks
Considered neutral on the pH scale (0 to 14), water has a pH level of 7.0. Liquids that fall under 7.0 are considered acidic. At a pH level of 5.5 and below, tooth enamel begins to dissolve. Most of the soft drinks test by the AAO fell below 5.5 pH.
Consuming soft drinks while under orthodontic care puts teeth at a heightened risk of decay, a result of the acid attacking the enamel, leaching out calcium. Repetitively exposing your teeth to acidic soft drinks dissolves enamel, a process called ‘decalcification,’ which leads to cavities, also leaving unattractive white spots on the teeth. When this happens and you finally get your braces off, you’ll have straight teeth but you’ll also be left with the white calcification spots. The unfortunate thing is that once the enamel is gone, the damage is permanent. The sugar in sweetened soft drinks also interacts with plaque, forming yet another acid which further dissolves enamel. This is the case for both traditional braces and Invisalign. With Invisalign the aligner act like a well of sorts, holding the acids from soft drinks, causing damage. While with Invisalign the acids and sugar are a little bit less problematic, drinking soft drinks can still cause significant problems.
If you feel that realistically you’re not going to stop drinking soft drinks, at least use a straw and brush thoroughly afterwards, at the very least using a fluoride mouthwash. It also helps if you have the soft drinks with a meal so the food can help absorb it. Drinking acidic drinks during treatment can also add additional costs to treatment because of cavities, etc.
When it comes to braces, besides avoiding hard foods, the most important thing you can do for the best results is stop drinking soft drinks and other acidic, sugary drinks, sticking to water and milk. Doesn’t it make sense to protect your investment?
Have any additional questions regarding the appropriate orthodontic at home care with braces? Give us a call. What you learn and how you use the information can make the difference between awesome end results (a beautiful, aligned smile) and having straight teeth that are dotted with white spots and cavities.
Ousama El-Hillal, referred to as Dr. O by patients, staff and friends is an Orthodontist at E&S Orthodontics. He founded E&S Orthodontics with Dr. Saavedra in 2004. He is driven to create Wide Beautiful Smiles Without Extractions.