The American Association of Orthodontists recently published a warning about the dangers of soft drinks during orthodontic treatment. Sodas, both regular and diet, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices can do considerable damage to teeth. This damage is compounded when you are wearing braces or aligners.
The acids in these beverages weaken the tooth by pulling the calcium out of the enamel. This process of decalcification can lead to cavities. This loss of enamel is permanent and will not restore itself.
The acid effect of soft drinks on your teeth can be amplified by another source of acid found in your mouth. Every day the surface of your teeth accumulate plaque, a sticky mixture of food debris, saliva and bacteria. The bacteria in the plaque utilize sugars and starches as food and make acid as a byproduct. This acid softens the teeth. For orthodontic patients this decalcification occurs around the braces and under the aligners. If you combine the acid from plaque with acid from drinks it doubles your risk for tooth decay!
During orthodontic treatment it is best to avoid these damaging drinks. If you must drink a soft drink use a straw to limit the contact with your teeth. Also, drink with a meal and do not sip the drink over a long period of time. The length of time the teeth are exposed to the acid increases the risk of decay. Brush right away after drinking and if you don’t have a toothbrush with you then rinse with water.
Dr. Susan Lempert, a local orthodontist, encourages her patients to follow the AAO warnings about soft drinks. She suggests drinking water instead. Dr. Lempert prescribes a special fluoride paste for all of her patients during treatment and will also recommend more frequent dental cleanings if a patient’s home care is deficient.
Dr. Lempert explains, “When you finish your orthodontic treatment you want a beautiful smile with straight, healthy teeth. White decalcification marks and cavities will destroy your result. Choose your drinks wisely because your smile depends on it!”
Dr. Susan Lempert is a local orthodontist and a member of the American Association of Orthodontists. For more information about Dr. Lempert and her practice you can visit her website at: www.lempertsmile.com.