Study compares tooth decay related to soda consumption, illegal drug use

CHICAGO — Soda may be as damaging to the teeth as some illegal drugs, according to a new study.

The study, published in the March-April 2013 issue of the journal General Dentistry, found that drinking large quantities of carbonated soda that the study labeled "abusive" can be as harmful to dental health as methamphetamine and crack cocaine.

The research team that conducted the study, led by dentist Mohamed Bassiouny, compared the damage in the mouths of three individuals — a methamphetamine user, a previous long-time user of cocaine and a person who drank two liters of diet soda per day for five years — who said they had poor oral hygiene and did not regularly see dentists. All showed the same type and severity of damage from tooth erosion.

"Each person experienced severe tooth erosion caused by the high acid levels present in their drug of choice — meth, crack or soda," Bassiouny said. "The citric acid present in both regular and diet soda is known to have a high potential for causing tooth erosion."