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Diet Soda Leaves Similar Damage to Teeth as Meth, Crack

May 27, 2013 03:25 PM EDT
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Crack and meth users suffer from what's been labeled as "meth mouth" or extreme tooth decay, and now a new study found that people that consumer diet sodas on a regular basis or just as likely to develop similar tooth damage.

The study, published recently in the journal General Dentistry, tracked a woman in her 30's who drank 2 liters of diet soda daily for three to five years had similar tooth decay and erosion to a meth user and a coke addict.

"You look at it side-to-side with 'meth mouth' or 'coke mouth,' it is startling to see the intensity and extent of damage more or less the same," said Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny, a professor of restorative dentistry at the Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia in the study.

Methamphetamine, crack cocaine and soda -- sweetened or not -- are all highly acidic and can cause similar dental problems, Bassiouny noted. The acid in soda is in the form of citric acid and phosphoric acid. If a diet soda drink fails to follow good dental hygiene practices, constant exposure can cause erosion and significant oral damage, he warned.

In his study, Bassiouny found that a woman in her 30's who drank large amounts of diet soda experienced tooth rot and decay remarkably similar to that suffered by a 29-year-old methamphetamine addict and a 51-year-old habitual crack cocaine user.

"The meth user, however, also consumed two or three cans of regular soda a day because the drugs made his mouth dry, and the crack addict has been a regular crack user for 18 years, nearly four times as long as the soda drinker had been consuming excessive amounts of soda."

Furthermore, the diet soda drinker confessed that she had not seen the dentist in two decades.

The Academy of General Dentistry has said people are "better off" if they don't drink soda, but he doesn't think people need to go to the extreme of never drinking soda again - they should just be aware that the beverage is highly acidic.

"Knowing that, you limit it and understand that you need to clean your mouth afterward," said spokesperson Dr. Eugene Antenucci, according to HealthDay. "Even simple water will wash away the acidity. And everyone should brush twice a day, if not more often."

Meanwhile, a study from 2009 also found that other drinks thought to be better - fruit juices, teas and energy drinks - can also have harmful effects on teeth, turning the pearly whites to shrinking, spotted yellows marred with pockmarks.

Basic tips to avoid tooth erosion

  • Drink the acidic beverage at once, instead of sipping it all day
  • Use a straw to avoid the teeth from being immersed in liquid
  • Substitute acidic beverages with water
  • Rinse mouth with water after drinking acidic beverage instead of brushing. The bristles of the toothbrush may damage the enamel.

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