Soda is one of the most harmful beverages for our oral health. The sugary and acidic nature of these drinks results in tooth decay and enamel erosion. But recently a trend on TikTok has featured a supposedly “healthy” alternative to soda being created – involving balsamic vinegar and sparkling water. However, research shows that such drinks remain harmful to our oral health.

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A new trend on the video-sharing social media app TikTok has seen users claim that they are able to make a “healthy” alternative to soda that tastes just as nice as regular fizzy drinks.

But despite these claims, recent research suggests that such recipes still erode tooth enamel and cause tooth decay. Therefore, such drinks are very harmful for our oral health.

The trend involves people mixing flavoured sparkling water with balsamic vinegar. The idea is that this creates a “healthier” alternative to soda, as the sugar content is lowered.

The impact of soda

The trend focuses on trying to create a healthy alternative to popular sugary drinks. The video that started the trend has attracted over 6million views at the time of writing.

Soda is one of the worst things for our oral health. Drinks like Coca-Cola, Fanta and Dr. Pepper are usually laced with sugar. Even sugar-free alternatives like PepsiMax and Coke Zero have harmful acids and artificial sweeteners in them – meaning they aren’t healthy for us either.

There are multiple studies that have confirmed the link between soda consumption and oral health problems like cavities [1]. As well as sugar, the acid in these drinks wear away enamel, leading to tooth erosion that speeds up the process of cavities forming.

The research

The recent research looked to see how a range of sodas, as well as sparkling water and regular water, affected teeth. The research was published online in the JADA Foundational Science journal [2].

The researchers used 8 different drinks for their study. These 8 drinks included soda drinks containing sugar, sugar-free soda beverages, sparkling water, and for control purposes – one was plain water [2].

The study used 8 human teeth which had recently been extracted. The teeth were soaked in the 8 different drinks over a period of 24 hours. The researchers used a 24 hour time period as they reasoned that this would roughly replicate a year’s worth of exposure to such drinks [2].

After 24 hours, the researchers examined each tooth to see the effect that each drink had on them. As expected, the only tooth that showed no sign of dental erosion was the one that had been soaked in water [2].

The researchers were especially interested to see the difference between the sodas with sugar and the sodas with artificial sweeteners. However, there was very little difference between them [2].

This may seem strange, but it is actually easy to explain – it is the acid that is in both types of drinks that caused the dental erosion. So the main cause of erosion was acid, although sugar also played a role [2].

The researchers also found that the teeth soaked in flavoured sparkling water had also eroded over the 24 hour period. However, the erosion was much less when compared to the sodas [2].

These results led to the researchers concluding that it is very important to limit the consumption of acidic drinks [2]. This can also be extended to acidic foods too.

What this means

It is concerning to see the impact that just 24 hours exposure to soda can do to human teeth. It shows the effect acid can have, as well as existing issues with sugar consumption.

While the exact recipe that has been praised on TikTok was not part of the study, it is very similar to the sugar-free but acidic drinks tested. As discussed, these caused dental erosion. The fact that vinegar also has acids in it would replicate the original findings.

Dr. Hewlett of the American Dental Association commented on the results. He said that “the more acidic the drink, the greater the risk of tooth erosion with frequent consumption” [3].

But Hewlett offered some advice, advising to drink sodas “in moderation and preferably with meals” [3]. He concluded by saying “if you’re looking for a glass of something that is actually good for your dental health, regular water, including fluoridated tap water, or milk are always good options” [3].

Such findings show that it is always important to be careful of viral trends. It is also worth checking with younger, more impressionable people, who may believe such drinks are “healthy”. As this study has shown, they are not.

Thinking points…

1) Regardless of how much you try, these days many of us consume a lot of sugary food and drink. As a result, our dental health can suffer. Even if you have a good diet, other factors may cause tooth decay or enamel erosion. Therefore, we can use this study as a reminder that we should all attend dental clinics for a regular check-up. You should attend the dentist at least twice a year, consider booking an appointment now!

2) It is understandable to occasionally drink soda and other acidic food and drink. But if you do, then you should be mindful that there are ways of limiting the damage to your teeth. This includes using a straw, swallowing the drink immediately rather than swishing it in your mouth, and rinse your mouth with water after finishing the drink. Chewing sugarless gum can also help to regulate acid levels in the mouth. Aside from the above measures, the best way of limiting damage is to attend check-ups at your dentist – as any problems can be rectified.

What we offer at Taradale Dental

Taradale Dental is a Calgary Dental Clinic that offer many services, including regular check-ups, cavity fillings and root canals.

We are also pleased to offer some cosmetic services. Here at our Calgary dental clinic, we offer treatments like tooth whitening, Invisalign™ and dental implants.

It is important for oral problems to be addressed early. Any issues can be identified at check-ups. If further treatment is needed after a check-up, our patients receive a clear treatment plan that is suited to their needs. Early detection helps to prevent the problem getting worse.

The best way of avoiding extra treatment is to have strong oral hygiene. This includes brushing our teeth at least twice a day, flossing regularly, and getting a dental check-up at least twice a year. Avoiding sugary foods and drink and not smoking also helps.

Our Calgary-based dental clinic Taradale Dental follows the Alberta Dental Fee Guide. This means our prices are competitive, transparent and affordable.

We would love you to visit us here at Taradale Dental soon! You can see more about us by visiting our website http://taradaledental.ca.

References

[1] Davies, M. (2010). Your teeth and ‘fizzy’ drinks. Journal of Biological Education. 23 (2): p77-78. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00219266.1989.9655034.

[2] Eckhart, S. D., Brewster, J. A., & Curtis, D. C. (2022). The erosive potential of sugar-free waters on cervical dentin. JADA Foundational Science. 1 (100009). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfscie.2022.100009/.

[3] American Dental Association. (2022). TikTok’s alternative soda trend could be tough on teeth. Available: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-06-tiktok-alternative-soda-trend-tough.html. Last accessed: 25th June 2022.