In the last 25 years, Kim McFarland, DDS, associate professor in the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry in Lincoln, has seen an increase in the number of dental patients with erosion of the tooth enamel?the protective layer of the tooth. When erosion occurs, it can't be reversed and affects people their whole life.
"I'd see erosion once in a while 25 years ago but I see much more prevalence nowadays," Dr. McFarland said. "A lot of young people drink massive quantities of soda. It's no surprise we're seeing more sensitivity."
Triggers like hot and cold drinks?and even cold air?reach the tooth's nerve and cause pain. Depending on the frequency and amount of soda consumed, the erosion process can be extreme.
She said according to the National Soft Drink Association, it's estimated the average American drinks 44 gallons of soda pop a year. Phosphoric and citric acid, which are common ingredients in many popular sodas and diet sodas, alters the pH balance in the mouth and can cause tooth erosion over time.
Such was the example in a previous DPS blog where William Kennewell, a 25-year-old who drank between 6 and 8 liters of soft drink each day, ignored dentists' warnings about the problems his dangerous habit was causing and has since had all his rotten teeth removed and replaced with dentures.
"I'm told a normal person has about 23 teeth, but I only had 13 left and they had to be removed," he said. "It started because I wasn't a huge water fan and working in the hotel industry, I had easy access to soda."
"Because my teeth were decaying so badly, it caused blood poisoning which just made me sick, but my health improved with the dentures."
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