Iowans are being reminded to think before they drink. The warning has nothing to do with alcohol, but instead the sugary, carbonated beverages we slug down. Dentist Kim McFarland says more people are developing sensitive teeth and the likely cause is drinking way too much pop, with each Iowan drinking an average of 44 gallons a year.
“I am seeing a lot more tooth erosion,” Dr. McFarland says. “The patients that have erosion often share with me the fact that they do drink a lot of pop and not just one or two a day but all throughout the day, drinking soda pop.”
It doesn’t matter if it’s “regular” or “diet” soda because the acid in all sodas alters the PH balance in the mouth which can erode a tooth’s enamel. McFarland says the best way to prevent enamel loss is to give up soda, or to at least cut back.
“Limit consumption of soda to mealtime,” McFarland says. Don’t drink soda throughout the day and brush your teeth afterwards with a fluoridated toothpaste, she says. If you can’t brush your teeth, rise your mouth out with water. If you chew gum, chew on that’s sugar-free or a gum containing Xylitol, a natural compound that’s said to reduce the chances of tooth decay.
Dr. McFarland says once tooth erosion starts, it can’t be stopped. “Tooth erosion or a weakening of the outer surface of the tooth causes the tooth to become sensitive, so things like hot and cold can be rather painful,” she says. “Once erosion occurs, it cannot be reversed and effects people their whole life.”
She says one other option is crowning all your teeth but that’s a costly, extreme solution.