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Diet Soda Is Just As Bad For Teeth As Meth According To Study, But Soda Company Blames Poor Dental Habits

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shutterstock_135384119Should parents be warning their teens about the dangers of diet soda right after they talk about saying no to drugs?  A recent case study says yes, while soda companies say “don’t be ridiculous!”

In a recently published study, Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny, a professor of restorative dentistry at the Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia, suggests that “[m]ethamphetamine, crack cocaine and soda — sweetened or diet varieties — are all highly acidic and can cause similar dental problems.

“You look at it side-to-side with ‘meth mouth’ or ‘coke mouth,’ it is startling to see the intensity and extent of damage more or less the same.”

Bassiouny’s study, published in the professional journal General Dentistry,

[F]ound that a woman in her 30s who drank 2 liters of diet soda daily for three to five years experienced tooth rot and decay remarkably similar to that suffered by a 29-year-old methamphetamine addict and a 51-year-old habitual crack cocaine user.

In detail that makes you want to jump up and brush your teeth immediately, the woman shares her story and the dentist surveys the results.

The woman said concerns about weight gain led her to choose diet soda over regular, and admitted that she had not seen a dentist in many years, according to the study. She also associated sweetened beverages with a higher risk of tooth decay. Her teeth were soft and discolored, with many destroyed by erosion. She usually sipped the beverage directly from a can or a bottle, and held the soda in her mouth before swallowing, Bassiouny said.

“She also mentioned that when doing so, she habitually leaned on her left side against the arm of the sofa while watching television,” he said. The “massive” damage to the left side of her mouth bore this out and resulted in what is called a collapsed bite.

“None of the teeth affected by erosion were salvageable,” Bassiouny said. The woman had to have all of her teeth removed and replaced with dentures.

Methamphetamine and crack are known to ravage the mouths of users, and the two drug abusers needed all of their teeth extracted.

Soda companies, knowing this is not a case of “no press is bad press,” are getting in front of damage control. A group representing soft drink manufacturers said this case study “should not be seen as an indictment of diet sodas generally.”  In fact, they downright resent the link.

“The woman referenced in this article did not receive dental health services for more than 20 years — two-thirds of her life,” the American Beverage Association said in a statement. “To single out diet soda consumption as the unique factor in her tooth decay and erosion — and to compare it to that from illicit drug use — is irresponsible.

Because all meth addicts and crack-cocaine users, unlike this poor woman, have top-notch dental habits?  I mean, normal people have fear of the dentist — and they don’t all have erosion of their teeth to the point of full extraction.

I take it this spokesperson assumes they brush, floss, and maintain their bi-annual dentist appointments.

“The body of available science does not support that beverages are a unique factor in causing tooth decay or erosion,” the group said. “However, we do know that brushing and flossing our teeth, along with making regular visits to the dentist, play a very important role in preventing them.”

I admit I am no fan of soda manufacturers, but this is a ridiculous statement in response to the scientifically shown similarities between “meth mouth” and “coke mouth.”  I think the body of available science does support that acidic beverages are a unique factor in causing tooth decay. Sugar and soda causes cavities. Isn’t that what our dentists have been telling us forever?

The lesson has always been — stay away from soda and sugary snacks. It’s up to you whether you add “they are just as bad as meth” when talking to your teens.

(photo: nikamo/Shutterstock)