Are there any acid-free diet sodas?
December 30, 2010 12:52 AM   Subscribe

I just learned that I have 2 cavities and I am guessing it's because I switched to drinking a lot of diet soda since my last dentist visit. Are there any diet sodas that are not acidic? (both caffeinated and uncaffeinated). If all diet sodas are acidic then is it possible to make kool-aid with a fake sugar and then carbonate it using a carbonator? How would that taste? Would that be ok for my teeth?
posted by HappyEngineer to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think it's the acidity; it's almost definitely the sugar. I'm not a dentist, though, so I may be wildly off-mark.
posted by wayland at 1:02 AM on December 30, 2010

Well CO2 is itself slightly acidic. However, according to wikipedia
Dental caries, also known as tooth decay or a cavity, is a disease where bacterial processes damage hard tooth structure (enamel, dentin, and cementum).[1] These tissues progressively break down, producing dental caries (cavities, holes in the teeth). Two groups of bacteria are responsible for initiating caries: Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus.
Bacteria in a person's mouth convert glucose, fructose, and most commonly sucrose (table sugar) into acids such as lactic acid through a glycolytic process called fermentation.[4] If left in contact with the tooth, these acids may cause demineralization, which is the dissolution of its mineral content. The process is dynamic, however, as remineralization can also occur if the acid is neutralized by saliva or mouthwash. Fluoride toothpaste or dental varnish may aid remineralization.[31] If demineralization continues over time, enough mineral content may be lost so that the soft organic material left behind disintegrates, forming a cavity or hole. The impact such sugars have on the progress of dental caries is called cariogenicity. Sucrose, although a bound glucose and fructose unit, is in fact more cariogenic than a mixture of equal parts of glucose and fructose.
So while acid is in play, it's the acid produced by consuming sugar, not the acid in the soda itself. Non-diet soda would be far worse for your teeth then diet pop, which does not contain "cariogenic" sugars of any type.
posted by delmoi at 1:03 AM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

Don't worry about the acidity of your diet soda, delmoi has it right.

You have to either kill the bacteria, remove the food/sugar particles on your teeth that they eat, neutralize the acid produced by the bacteria, or some combination of all those things. Brush/floss/mouthwash more, plus drinking more milk (or even just rinsing your mouth with water really well after a meal) is a better direction to go in.
posted by Menthol at 1:18 AM on December 30, 2010

I think you'll find most beverages, short of water, will be acidic. To use your example, Kool Aid is mostly sugar and citric acid.
posted by Gordafarin at 1:26 AM on December 30, 2010

It is the citric acid, which is one of the first ingredients in diet soda, especially citrus-based (7-Up, Mountain Dew, etc.). As soon as I cut out Diet Mountain Dew I felt the difference in my teeth (which are a mess, and sensitive to boot). Water, alas, is your friend here.
posted by sdn at 2:05 AM on December 30, 2010

After having a zillion cavities several years ago, I started drinking all my sodas with straws.

My last checkup, I had ZERO cavities, the first time in my life. Ever.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:33 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

The normal process is for bacteria to create the acid. Drinking acid is cutting out the middle-man. And at the very least, it is lowering the pH of your mouth, reducing the neutralising effect of saliva on any bacterial acid.

Carbonated water is acidic, so using a carbonator on your own drink won't eliminate the acidity of the drink - it will create it.

Lemonade and lemon water can be even more acidic, even uncarbonated.

Drinking soda through a straw, always, is the only thing I know of that seems to help somewhat, other than drinking water :-(
posted by -harlequin- at 2:40 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

IAMAD but I think you're mixing up two different problems. Acidic drinks are a major cause of acid erosion but I don't think a sugar-free variety would lead specifically to cavities. Cavities are more likely to be the result of a high-sugar diet combined with poor dental hygeine. By all means, reduce your soda intake or use a straw, but unless your dentist has mentioned the soda directly, I don't think it's a problem.
posted by londonmark at 3:29 AM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

This is not the advice you are looking for but i would try to start drinking water instead.

There are studies being done that are starting to show that diet soda might not be so diet after all .

Most people also do not get enough water and a lot of headaches might just be dehydrated headaches

Yes it will take a little bit to get used to drinking just water BUT it will help you a lot in the long run. Water has no calories and will make you feel tons better.
posted by majortom1981 at 6:39 AM on December 30, 2010

When I was working on interactive health textbooks for kids, we hired a highly respected nutritionist to help us write the material on sugar-sweetened drinks, namely sodas. We went through dozens of brands of sodas, ingredient by ingredient, and discussed their health implications, and the worst ones (besides sugar) kind of surprised me. It's not carbonated water, but phosphoric acid that does the most damage to teeth, and is correlated with osteoporosis.

Phosphoric acid is found in most dark colored sodas where it serves as a flavoring. Colorless sodas like Sprite don't have phosphoric acid and have been shown in studies not to cause as much damage to teeth and bones.

Caffeine also interferes with calcium absorption, and should be cut down if you're worried.

Carbonated water is slightly acidic, however, it is usually not the culprit when it comes to affecting health. So, don't worry about carbonation itself. Find something fizzy, caffeine-free, and lighter-colored.
posted by Alison at 7:32 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

The problem with drinking soda is the way you drink it. Acid in the drink as well as the acidic by-product of the bacteria metabolizing the sugars (and saccharin) causes a drop in the ph in the mouth. saliva can buffer this acidity, but not if you are sipping your drink a little at a time and constantly lowering the ph in the mouth.
Try sugar free drinks, try noncarbonated drinks, but mostly, drink your drink and then chew sugar free gum or find another way to stimulate saliva without introducing carbs into the oral cavity.
Brush, floss, have regular check-ups. ask for supplemental topical fluoride if the problem of new cavities persists.
IAAD, btw.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:05 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Switch to seltzer. If what you like about soda is the sweetness, try mixing your own "soda" by adding an ounce or two of pure fruit juice (with no sugar added!) and filling the rest of the glass with seltzer. Way better than your carbonated kool-aid plan.
posted by Sara C. at 1:55 PM on December 30, 2010

The diet soda did not contribute to your cavities; there's really no mechanism for that to happen, as others have said.

However, if you want to cut back on diet soda or stop drinking it entirely, the carbonated water plus a splash of juice thing rocks like a particularly rocking hurricane. I have a SodaStream and it's so fantastic.

There are studies being done that are starting to show that diet soda might not be so diet after all.

I have no idea what you are talking about here. Diet soda doesn't have calories in it; there aren't any "studies being done" that suggest that it actually does have calories.

If you're talking about some of the studies that suggest that diet soda may stimulate people's appetite, that's a potentially interesting topic but the data gathered to date are from poorly controlled sample groups. It's certainly possible that substantive data may be gathered to substantiate that hypothesis in future.

Not everyone who chooses sugar-free sodas does so because they want to lose weight, though; some of us just don't like the taste of sugary soda!
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:10 PM on December 30, 2010

This goes without saying, but try cutting down on sweetened drinks gradually. Do you have sodas when sitting down for a meal, or sip it throughout the day while paying attention to something else, like work? You may find you won't miss it as much as you thought you would, and it's certainly not as hard as smoking.

You could try to switch to tea here and there (and not the canned/bottled kind), which can actually be good for your teeth. But for your main question, apparently root beer is the "least bad" kind of soda, as is doesn't use citric or phosphoric acid (I'd imagine diet would be even better). Hopefully you're a fan, as I am.

And I wish I knew this when I was younger, but don't brush right away after having acidic drinks/foods... wait 30-60 minutes (looking around, Colgate suggests at least 60). Do rinse with water in the time between. And sugarless gum, preferably with xylitol.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:57 PM on December 30, 2010

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