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Is Diet Coke Bad for Teeth?

Soft drinks and sodas are known for their ability to stain your teeth and cause tooth decay over time. Still, some drinks are definitely more damaging than others when it comes to tooth health.

In this article, we will examine the effects of Diet Coke on the teeth, and provide some actionable steps on how to avoid causing damage to your teeth.

Diet Coke

Ingredients in Diet Coke

The ingredients in Diet Coke are a clever concoction designed to provide a flavour as similar as possible to the original product, but with virtually none of the calories. However, this combination may not be the healthiest.

Here are the main ingredients found in Diet Coke:

  • Carbonated water – The main basis for the fizzy taste of the drink.
  • Caramel colour (E150d) – Provides no flavour to the drink, and is for the colour only. Caramel colour is famous as one of the most commonly consumed food colouring ingredients in the world.
  • Phosphoric acid – Used to provide a tangy flavour in many soft drinks.
  • Sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame K) – Used to provide a sweet taste without the calories from regular sugar. Still, artificial sweeteners like Aspartame are highly controversial for their various possible adverse effects, in spite of FDA approval.
  • Potassium Benzoate – A preservative used to discourage the growth of bacteria, mould, and yeast.
  • Natural Flavourings – Various flavours which are not available to the public.
  • Citric acid – Used as a preservative and a way to add a bit of sourness to the taste of the drink.
  • Caffeine – The most popular stimulant in the world. Used to provide a kick to many soda drinks, facilitating the want for more of the drink.

What ingredients in Diet Coke are bad for your teeth?

Several ingredients in Diet Coke can erode the enamel and make your teeth more susceptible to cavities. These ingredients include:

  • Phosphoric acid – Has been linked with the erosion of the enamel, as well as loss of calcium in the teeth.
  • Citric acid – Has also been shown to erode the enamel of the teeth, and cause proportionally more damage to the teeth the longer it is in contact with them. Citric acid is also used in bathroom cleaning products.
  • Other acidic additives – A study from the University of Melbourne found that acidic additives such as malic acid, tartaric acid and fumaric acid also contributed to the erosion of the teeth and other dental health risks, regardless of the presence of sugar in the drink.
  • Artificial colours – Can contribute to the staining of the teeth, giving them a yellow tint.

How much can Diet Coke damage teeth?

Evidently, Diet Coke is not good for the teeth. But how much damage can it really cause, and does this mean it should not be consumed at all?

There is no evidence to suggest that having a Diet Coke once or twice a month will damage your teeth, but scientific research maintains that unlimited consumption of sugar-free drinks like Diet Coke is not recommended, due to associations between artificially sweetened drinks and obesity, cardiometabolic risks and dental issues.

Although there is no specific recommendation for Diet Coke intake with the health of the teeth in mind, most sources will only suggest drinking it once or twice a week, and no more than 12 ounces (355ml) a day.

Does Diet Coke stain your teeth?

Acidic beverages such as Diet Coke carry a definite risk for potential staining of the teeth, regardless of the fact that they contain artificial sweeteners instead of sugar.

Phosphoric acid is one of the main ingredients in Diet Coke that facilitate the staining of the teeth as it weakens the enamel and allows for other substances to induce discolouration of otherwise healthy teeth.

Does Diet Coke cause tooth decay?

The myth that Diet Coke is better for the teeth when compared to regular coke is mostly dispelled nowadays, as new studies point towards the similar negative effects both of them can have on the teeth.

Diet Coke can cause tooth decay with prolonged consumption, thanks to its highly acidic ingredients.

Still, an Australian study found that most respondents lacked awareness of the ability of both regular and diet sodas to cause health issues, which also included tooth decay.

How to prevent teeth damage caused by Diet Coke

Even though it is quite clear that Diet Coke can cause damage to the teeth, there are certain steps which can be taken in order to mitigate its negative effects.

The first, and perhaps most simple step, is consuming less Diet Coke, and practising moderation. The less frequently your teeth are exposed to the drink the better.

In order to prevent too much contact with the teeth, you should not swish the drink around in your mouth, and using a straw may also be beneficial.  It is also a good idea to rinse your mouth with water after drinking it.

You may brush your teeth after drinking coke but try not to do it too soon. As previously mentioned, Diet Coke will temporarily soften the enamel of the teeth, and aggressive brushing too soon can cause additional damage, which is why It is generally recommended to wait around 30 minutes after drinking the beverage.