WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Your teeth may pay the price for drinking lots and lots of soda.
According to a recent study of the Academy of General Dentistry, drinking large quanities of carbonated soda could be as damaging to your teeth as methamphetamine and crack cocaine use.
Between the consumption of illegal drugs and soda, there have been similairites when looking at the process of tooth erosion.
Tooth erosion is the process when tooth enamel is destroyed by acid on the teeth. With the enamel being attacked and or destroyed, teeth become vulnerable to cavities, as well as being sensitive, cracked, or discolored.
Dr. Alex Niani of Aesthetic Dental Spa in Vienna says, "The citric acid and phosphoric acid that are in the soda and its in other things as well."
Including sport and energy drinks. Dr. Niani notes that if you love diet soda, try not to sip the beverage all day long.
"So have it all in one sitting, don't sip it all day long because you are leaving that acidic environment in your mouth. It takes about an hour to for it to neutralize. Or drink water immediately afterwards that will help neutralize," adds Dr. Niani.
Sugarless gum is a way to neutralize the acids in the mouth from acidic drinks.
The case study compared the damage in three individuals' mouths - an admited user of meth, a previous longtime user of cocaine, and an excessive diet soda drinker.
The study references a woman in her 30's who drank about two liters of diet soda every day for 3-5 years. She suffered from eroded teeth that resembled those of the 29-year-old meth addict who had been taking drugs for three years and the 51-year-old crack cocaine user who had an 18-year-history of drug abuse.
"Each person experienced severe tooth erosion caused by the high acid levels present in their 'drug' of choice - meth, crack, or soda. The citric acid, the ingredients used in preparing meth can include extremely corrosive materials, such as battery acid, lantern fuel, and drain cleaner. Crack cocaine is highly acidic in nature, as well." says Mohamed A. Bassiony, DMD, MSc, PhD, and lead author of the study.
Besides exposing teeth to these corrosive materials and damaging acid, these illegal drugs reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth. Thus, providing less opportunity for the acids to be washed away.
Dr. Bassiony continues, "The striking similarities found in this study should be a wake-up call to consumers who think that soda - even diet soda - is not harmful to their oral health."
The woman had been drinking diet soda for years because she was worried about gaining weight. She was aware of the risks associated with consuming artificially sweetened beverages, but admitted that she had not stepped foot in a dentist's office in over 20 years.
AGD Spokesperson Dr. Eugene Antenucci, DDS, FAGD, said that he has seen the effects of diet soda in many addicts, and explained that some of them experienced "very deep brown stains, where it's actually eroded into the tooth, and the teeth are soft and leathery."