Soft drinks and orthodontic braces... not a good combination!

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, soft drinks, including regular and diet soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks, weaken tooth enamel and can lead to decay. They are even harder on teeth when orthodontic appliances such as braces or Invisalign are present. It is strongly recommended that soft drinks be avoided during any orthodontic treatment. This will help to ensure your teeth stay healthy and strong during treatment which will lead to a beautiful smile.

Soft drinks contain acids that pull calcium out of the enamel. This makes the enamel softer. The acid continues to dissolve the tooth enamel, creating white spots called decalcification. Decalcification, or white spot lesions, can lead to cavities. Once enamel dissolves, it cannot "grow" back. This is a permanent loss of enamel once it occurs.

Chemicals are classified as acids or bases. The pH value is a measurement of how acidic or basic a chemical is. Soft drinks have a low pH value, and are therefore considered acids. Water has a neutral pH value at 7.0. Pepsi has a pH value of 2.62, for example, making it very acidic and therefore very harmful to tooth enamel, as tooth enamel begins to dissolve at a pH level of 5.5. Water or milk is always the best choice (milk has a pH value of 6.7)!

BE SMART! Avoid soft drinks, juices, sports drinks and energy drinks during orthodontic treatment. If you must have that periodic soft drink, always drink it through a straw and have it with a meal. Brush right away after drinking a soft drink, and if you can't brush right away, be sure and at least rinse your mouth out with water. Drink the soft drink quickly rather than sipping over time as each sip renews that acid attack on your enamel! Be sure and brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least three times a day as fluoride helps to strengthen tooth enamel. And don't forget to floss! You should also remember to see your dentist every six months during your orthodontic treatment for a professional cleaning and check-up.