Diet Soda as bad for your teeth as crack cocaine or meth?


Several sources have reported that diet soda is as bad for your teeth as crack cocaine and meth. While diet soda is certainly not good for your teeth, one of the women that is most mentioned in the news about the adverse effects of diet soda on your teeth did not practice regular dental hygiene. This was almost certainly a factor in the bad condition of her teeth.

According to Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny, a professor of restorative dentistry at the Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia, methamphetamine, crack cocaine and soda-sweetened or not-are all highly acidic and can cause similar dental problems.

The woman who  Bassiouny cited in his study was in her 30’s.  She consumed a fairly large amount of diet soda, 2 liters of diet soda daily for three to five years. This was one of the factors, along with her not practicing proper dental hygiene, that led to Bassiouny’s findings.

According to US News and World Report, the woman experienced tooth rot and decay that was very similar to that suffered by a 29-year-old methamphetamine addict or a 51-year-old habitual crack cocaine user.

Bassiouny mentions in his study that two drug abusers who came to him for dental issues needed all of their teeth extracted. They used methamphetamine and crack, which are known to cause damage to the mouths of users.

These illegal drugs reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth, providing a lesser ability for the acids to wash away.  They also expose teeth to damaging acid, and cause systemic health problems that affect dental hygiene. The condition that results is commonly known as “meth mouth,”  which previous studies have linked  with rampant decay.

The acid in soda is in the form of citric acid and phosphoric acid, according to Bassiouny. Constant exposure to these two acids, combined with poor dental hygiene, could cause erosion and significant oral damage, he said.

Bassiouny’s study was published recently in the journal General Dentistry.

In a statement they made to HealthDay the American Beverage Association stated that they don’t believe  Bassiouny’s study reflected an issue with consumption of diet soda, but rather with the individual’s decision to neglect proper oral health services.

“The woman referenced in this article did not receive dental health services for more than 20 years – two-thirds of her life,” the organization said. “To single out diet soda consumption as the unique factor in her tooth decay and erosion – and to compare it to that from illicit drug use – is irresponsible.”

A spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry, Dr. Eugene Antenucci, said that the results did not surprise him.

“From my experience, the damage that happens to people’s mouths from cocaine or methamphetamine are degrees greater than what I see from soda, but I see a lot of damage from soda,” he said.

The study’s findings were published in the journal General Dentistry. While over-indulging in drinking diet sodas is not a good practice to follow, what can be concluded is that the consumption of it in large amounts is especially detrimental if one also does not practice regular dental hygiene.


Written by: Douglas Cobb