The Triple Threat: Sugar, Acid, and Bacteria.


The other day I was driving around town running errands. It happened to be a day when there was no public school due to parent teacher conferences. I was reminded of this by the number of school aged kids I saw out and about. As I noticed all of these kids enjoying their day off of school I was shocked and horrified. It was not their behavior, their wild hair, or even their outfits that threw me into a head spin-it was that so many of them were carrying around HUGE bottles of pop!


When I was a kid growing up in Colorado Springs there was a shop that we would visit on a regular basis. This shop was a child's dream come true. It was The Pop Shoppe.  When you entered there were big plastic crates that would hold 24 bottles of the most delicious beverages a child can imagine. You could take your crate and select all sorts of different flavors: root beer, orange, grape, cola, cream soda, and many more!







My sister and I would argue about how many of which flavor to fill up our crate with. Finally we would emerge, happy as campers, excited about the wonderful beverages we would soon get to enjoy.

HALT!!!  Why is a dentist talking so fondly about POP????  Let me get back to my current self who despises pop and what it does to teeth!!!

The title of this post is 'The triple threat: sugar, acid and bacteria". Why is this a threat and what is it a threat to?  This combination, which occurs in our mouths when we drink pop ,causes cavities.  The bacteria in our mouths eat the sugar in pop and expel lactic acid. This lactic acid then can chip away at the enamel of our teeth causing soft spots which are more vulnerable to developing cavities!  Add more acid to this equation,the acid that is in the pop, and this equals the triple threat! Each time we sip a sugary/acidic drink there is a 16-20 minute time frame that acid is attacking our teeth.

So, after a childhood of drinking pop from The Pop Shoppe I bet you are wondering how many cavities I have. The answer may surprise you. ZERO.  Although we were allowed pop and candy growing up it was strictly limited. The only time we got to enjoy a Pop Shoppe pop was 'Saturday Night Family Night'. My mom would pop popcorn and my dad would make milkshakes. We could choose between either a milkshake or a pop. We would watch a movie and enjoy our weekly treat.

This is what I see as the big difference in my pop consumption as a kid and today's pop consumption among kids. Many kids have pop or athletic sports drinks multiple times in one week. As a dentist I am shocked by the amount of cavities I see in children, even with fluoridated water and all the knowledge we have about brushing and flossing.

Pop should be a treat. Pop is a wonderful yummy TREAT. Treats should be limited and reserved for special occasions. I know I'd see less childhood cavities if more kids limited the amount of pop to an occasional treat. And I know you're wondering-do I drink pop today?  Yes, I have about one pop a month-and still no cavities!