How Long Does it Take for Soda to Damage Teeth?

Dentists have known, and have warned their patients, that soda and other highly-acidic drinks can cause irreversible damage to your teeth. While alarming in itself, researchers have now shown that acid-caused tooth erosion, which could last for life, can occur within the first 30 seconds of exposure. To protect your only set of permanent teeth from equally-permanent damage, we explore how acids destroy your teeth, and offer a few tips to prevent excessive tooth erosion to save your dental health.

Sodas and Other Highly-Acidic Beverages

Despite the need for constant care, your teeth aren’t helpless against acids and other destructive substances. The semi-translucent enamel that protects them, which is made almost completely of mineral crystals, is the most resilient substance your body produces. Yet, to stay strong, it needs a constant supply of those minerals (mainly calcium and phosphate).

Highly-acidic beverages attack enamel while depleting your teeth of minerals, making enamel weak and your teeth unable to remineralize it. Besides sodas, drinks that contain large amounts of acids, or sugar that feeds oral bacteria that convert it into acids, also include;

  • Fruit juices (especially citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons, and limes)
  • Coffee
  • Wine and other alcoholic beverages
  • Sports and energy drinks

Tips to Prevent Tooth Erosion

  • The most effective way to prevent tooth erosion is to limit their exposure to acids by choosing healthier beverages. Water is always recommended; as a neutral substance, it can negate the effects of acids in your mouth. Milk contains calcium and phosphate in abundance, and can help replenish tooth minerals and enamel quicker. If you must drink a soda, use a straw to minimize its contact with your teeth.
  • Your first instinct after exposing your teeth to acid might to be brush them, but if you do so too soon, the scrubbing can strip away your weakened and sensitive tooth enamel. Instead, rinse your mouth with water immediately, then wait at least 30 minutes for enamel to recover before brushing your teeth.
  • If left unaddressed, weak enamel will only grow weaker, and will eventually develop holes that allow bacteria to infect your tooth’s main structure. To help refortify your teeth, use toothpaste that contains fluoride, which bonds to and strengthens weak tooth enamel. If needed, we might also recommend topical fluoride treatments during your routine dental checkup and cleaning for additional protection.


Calcagno Cosmetic and Family Dentistry offer expert services including teeth whitening, Six Month Smiles, Invisalign, root canals, and pediatric dentistry. To schedule a consultation, please call (507) 218-8936. Dr. Gilly Calcagno and Dr. Kara Heimer welcome and serve patients from Rochester, Red Wing, St. Charles, Winona, Farmington, Austin, and the surrounding communities.