Diet soda may be a popular drink alternative for those looking to cut back on calories, but heavy consumption of these beverages could wreak havoc on a person’s teeth.
According to a new study published in the journal General Dentistry, constant exposure to the citric and phosphoric acid in soda – without proper dental hygiene – can be just as damaging to teeth as methamphetamine or crack cocaine, Health Day news reported.
"You look at it side-to-side with 'meth mouth' or 'coke mouth,' it is startling to see the intensity and extent of damage more or less the same," Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny, a professor of restorative dentistry at the Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia, told Health Day News.
According to Bassiouny, methamphetamine and crack cocaine are highly acidic, just like diet soda.
The study referenced a woman in her 30s who drank 2 liters of diet soda every day for three to five years. When her teeth were compared to a 29-year-old methamphetamine addict and a 51-year-old crack cocaine user, the levels of tooth rot and decay were very similar. The woman also admitted she had not seen a dentist in many years.
Bassiouny said her teeth had been destroyed by erosion, becoming soft and discolored. She ultimately had to have all of her teeth removed and replaced with dentures.
"None of the teeth affected by erosion were salvageable," Bassiouny said.
Both the meth addict and crack cocaine users had to have all of their teeth removed as well. According to Health Day News, these drugs also reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth, making it difficult for the acids to wash away.
While the results may seem staggering, representatives for the American Beverage Association argue that it’s unlikely soda was the single culprit for the woman’s tooth decay.
"The woman referenced in this article did not receive dental health services for more than 20 years -- two-thirds of her life," the American Beverage Association said in a statement. "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.”