Common misconception we hear from our patients is: “There is no sugar in diet drinks, therefore they are not bad for my teeth, right??”

Well, not quite, and this is a reason why:

There is a certain level of pH value your teeth can tolerate and enjoy. pH is a logarithmic measure of how acidic a liquid is.  That level is between 5.5 and 7. A lower pH means greater acidity. Stomach acid has a pH of approximately 1.5 to 3.5.  Tap water has a pH of 7.  A key point to remember when you’re drinking diet soda is: both diet and regular sodas are just slightly less acidic than stomach acid!

The acid wears down your tooth enamel. And your tooth enamel is the main defense against  caries progression. Diet pop has the potential to contribute to enamel breakdown and when combined with sugar can contribute to rampant decay!

Product Acid
per 12 oz
Pure Water 7.00 (neutral) 0.0
Barq’s 4.61 10.7 tsp.
Diet Coke 3.39 0.0
Mountain Dew 3.22 11.0 tsp.
Gatorade 2.95 3.3 tsp
Coke Classic 2.63 9.3 tsp.
Pepsi 2.49 9.8 tsp.
Sprite 3.42 9.0
Diet 7-Up 3.67 0.0
Diet Dr. Pepper 3.41 0.0
Surge 3.02 10.0
Gatorade 2.95 3.3
Hawaiian Fruit Punch 2.82 10.2
Orange Minute Maid 2.80 11.2
Dr. Pepper 2.92 9.5
Source: Minnesota
Dental Association
The threshold pH for enamel dissolution is 5.5.

What about sports and energy drinks? Everything mentioned above applies to them to.

Some tips to prevent teeth erosion and decay:

  • Drink diet soda in moderation (no more than one 12 oz can a day)
  • Use a straw to keep the liquid away from your teeth
  • Swish your mouth out with water after drinking diet sodas to dilute the acid and sugar
  • Drink plenty of water (8 glasses a day)
  • Don’t sip soda for extended periods of time

One question we do get a lot during the holidays is how the red wine affect my teeth?

Because of its rich color, red wine stains the teeth. If left untreated, the staining can only get worse. Red wine also has a high tannic acid content, which is also present in coffee and tea, and can make the stains even worse. Not all red wine is acidic but if they are, yes they can harm your teeth as well.

It’s a holiday season, stay healthy and happy, enjoy the time you will get to spend with your family. Enjoy in all small things in life that are making your special moments that much special!