When patients get braces put on, there are many small changes that must be made to diet and daily routine in order to ensure that teeth stay healthy underneath the braces. While most patients understand that teeth must be brushed and flossed more often, many neglect to follow dietary instructions. One of the worst things that a patient can do to their teeth after having braces installed is continue to sip soda and other soft drinks.
Soda contains high quantities of acids and sugar. The acids can weaken tooth enamel and eventually lead to cavities and soda tooth decay. The sugar can get stuck in between braces and teeth and stay on teeth, causing the area of the tooth that is hidden beneath the braces to rot. When braces are removed, the decay is revealed. Depending on the extent of the damage, teeth may need to be whitened, filled, or extracted.
Diet soda is only marginally better for teeth than regular soda. While regular soda contains sugar and acid, diet soda contains artificial sweeteners and acid, which can still cause tooth decay. Iced tea or hot tea that is fresh brewed typically contains a small amount of acid, if any, but bottled tea that is store bought may contain acid as a preservative. Tea that is sweetened will pose the same problems to teeth that soda does with sugar content. Tea and soda, whether it is diet or regular, may also stain the teeth.
Avoiding soda will help patients to avoid many of the issues of tooth decay discussed above. However, for patients that really enjoy soda, drinking a soda once in a great while will not harm the teeth if proper precautions are taken. Soda should never be sipped over long periods of time, as the prolonged exposure to the sugar and acid can cause the substances to become caught in between the braces and teeth and removal may be difficult. Instead, the entire soda should be drunk within a fifteen minute and water should be swished in the mouth afterward. The teeth should be brushed as soon as possible afterward, in order to remove as much sugar and acid from the teeth as possible.
Children that are used to drinking soda daily may have a hard time adjusted to the dietary change. Parents can help to support the child by joining the child in the effort to avoid soda. Stocking the house with water, fruit juices, and other beverages that are not as harmful as soda can help to make the transition easier. Children will be thankful for the support when their smile is white and healthy after braces have been removed.