MadSci Network: Anatomy

Re: Human teeth and carbonation and caffeine

Date: Wed May 20 00:46:09 1998
Posted By: Robert Houska, Faculty, Natural Sciences, Fullerton College
Area of science: Anatomy
ID: 894905226.An


Soft drinks do dissolve teeth.  Look at the ingredients label on a soft 
drink product.  You will probably see that it contains ascorbic acid and/or 
acetic acid.  Acid dissolves teeth.  The carbonation in soft drinks produces 
carbonic acid which can also dissolve teeth (seltzer has a pH around 3).  

Sugar is also present in most soft drinks.  Sugar is easily digested by the 
bacteria that naturally occur in the mouth.  When bacteria digest sugar, 
they produce acid.  This acid eats away at the outer layer of a tooth and 
can eventually lead to a cavity.   

Caffeine does not stain teeth, it stimulates the central nervous system and 
increases urinary output.  Again, look at the ingredients label on most soft 
drinks and you will see caffeine. Coffee and tea do stain teeth.  However, 
the culprit is not the caffeine they both contain.         

I don't think we should blame SOFT DRINKS for tooth decay.  I think most 
tooth decay is caused by PEOPLE who don't practice good oral hygiene or see 
a dentist regularly. 

Good luck with your science project.

Robert Houska
Mad Scientist    

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