Will Diet Soda Hurt My Teeth?

Oftentimes we choose to drink diet soda because we are watching our waistlines. We have been told diet soda is healthier because it’s devoid of sugar, calories, and fat. It’s typically seen as the healthier alternative to sugary soda and juice. However, while the topic of conversation usually centers on what diet soda is lacking – sugar and calories – it is also important to understand what it does contain – acids, artificial sweeteners, and caffeine – all of which can negatively affect your oral health. Diet soda can hurt teeth by breaking down your tooth enamel, which often shows up as tooth sensitivity, pitting, opacity changes, and chalkiness. When tooth enamel is broken down, it can expose the yellow under-layer of dentin, giving your teeth a yellow appearance. 

Acid in Diet Soda

The primary culprit in diet soda is the acid content. Diet soda and sugar-free drinks contain acids –  phosphoric acid, citric acid, and/or tartaric acid – all of which can lead to tooth decay. Unfortunately, these acids can destroy enamel on teeth for up to 20 minutes after consuming soda. This means if you are sipping on diet soda all day, your teeth are under constant attack. 

Does Diet Soda Cause Gingivitis?

Receding gum lines are affected by the acid in diet soda. When your gums are receding, the acid in diet soda can cause damage below the gum line, which can lead to gingivitis, bleeding gums, and periodontitis. Diet soda can also cause gingivitis due to dehydration. Given that diet soda has both diuretic and laxative properties, chronic dehydration is a significant concern for diet soda drinkers. This dehydration can cause bad breath, dry mouth, gum disease, and tooth decay.

Is Coffee or Diet Soda Worse for Teeth?

Between the two options, coffee and diet soda, coffee is the better choice. While coffee is not beneficial for your teeth, it can be a better option than soda, especially if you do not add sugar. Drink coffee with caution though, because it also contains acid, just less than diet soda. Coffee can also stain teeth due to the dark pigment, but darker-colored sodas can have the same effect.

Which Soda Decays Teeth the Most?

Cola is the worst type of soda because it contains more acid and dark artificial colors than lighter ones. While cola is generally the worst type of soda, the most acidic soda on the market is 7Up Cherry. Root beer is the best choice, as it contains the least amount of acid. Other sodas with lower levels of acid include Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, Sprite, and Welch’s Grape Soda. However, you are much better off sticking with water than consuming any of these sodas, as water will help you stay hydrated and can rinse acid and sugar from your teeth. It also can help restore the proper pH in your mouth, which can encourage the natural remineralization of your tooth enamel.


Keeping up with good hygiene habits and watching what you eat and drink can help you maintain a happy, healthy smile. To learn more about this topic or anything related to your teeth, schedule a free exam or start a virtual consultation with Smith Orthodontics today!