Based on a new study published in the journal General Dentistry, heavy consumption of diet soda can damage teeth as badly as methamphetamine or crack cocaine, according to a news report on Fox.
Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny, a professor of restorative dentistry at the Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia, claims methamphetamine and crack cocaine are highly acidic, just like diet soda.
Methamphetamine, crack cocaine and both diet and sweetened soda are highly acidic and can cause similar dental problems, Bassiouny said in the study.
“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,” said Dr. Bassiouny.
The study revealed that a woman in her 30s who drank 2 liters of diet soda daily for three to five years experienced tooth rot and decay remarkably similar to that suffered by a 29-year-old methamphetamine addict and a 51-year-old habitual crack cocaine user.
The woman in the study said a fear of weight gain led her to choose diet soda, and also because she associated sweetened beverages with a higher risk of tooth decay.
Her teeth were soft and discolored, with many destroyed by erosion. She usually sipped the beverage directly from a can or a bottle, and held the soda in her mouth before swallowing, Bassiouny said.
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.
Besides exposing teeth to damaging acid, methamphetamine and crack cocaine reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth, preventing the acids to wash away. “The drugs also cause systemic health problems that affect dental hygiene. Previous studies have linked “meth mouth” with rampant 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.”
Dr. Eugene Antenucci, spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry, said he was not surprised by Bassiouny’s findings.
“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,” said Antenucci, a dentist in Huntington, N.Y.
“Damage from excessive soda consumption can cause very deep brown stains, where it’s actually eroded into the tooth, and the teeth are soft and leathery,” he said.
Sugar-free soda is no better than regular soda when it comes to dental decay, said Bassiouny. “Both of them have the same drastic effect if they are consumed in the same frequency, the same amount and the same duration,” he said.
Diet Soda Increases Risk of Stroke, Heart Attack
A different study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found drinking diet soda daily significantly increases the risk of developing a stroke, heart attack and other serious vascular issues.
Based on the research, those who drank diet soda on a daily basis were 43 percent more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack than the control group, even if pre-existing vascular conditions existed.
Hannah Gardener, the study’s lead researcher, claims the study results suggest a potential association between daily diet soft drink consumption and vascular outcomes. But warns the mechanisms by which soft drinks may affect vascular events are unclear.