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Diet Sodas Can Lead to Permanent Tooth Damage

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Aug 07, 2013 08:38 AM EDT
diet soda
(Photo : REUTERS/Jim Young )

Diet soda damages teeth permanently, an expert said.

Kim McFarland, D.D.S., associate professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry in Lincoln said that in the past 25 years he has seen an increase in the number of people with tooth enamel erosion.

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"I'd see erosion once in a while 25 years ago but I see much more prevalence nowadays," Dr. McFarland said. "A lot of young people drink massive quantities of soda. It's no surprise we're seeing more sensitivity."

Sugar in soda combines with bacteria to form an acid that damages the enamel. Even diet sodas have citric acid and phosphoric acid that can cause damage to the teeth. Increasing dairy intake and limiting consumption of sugary beverages can reduce enamel loss.

Once the enamel erodes, she said, it can lead to permanent damage of teeth. A recent study had shown that dental damage due to diet soda resembles the damage caused by drugs such as methamphetamine or crack cocaine.

"It can be more harmful than cavities because the damage causes tooth sensitivity. If a tooth is decayed, a dentist can fix it by placing a filling, but if a tooth is sensitive there is really nothing a dentist can do," Dr. McFarland said, Medicalxpress reported. "Tooth sensitivity can become a lifetime problem, limiting things we like to drink and even food choices. It hurts to consume cold and hot foods and beverages. Some of my patients tell me when they go outside in the winter they don't open their mouth because the cold air causes pain."

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