Heavy consumption of diet soda can be as bad for your teeth as an addiction to methamphetamine or crack cocaine, according to a study published in General Dentistry magazine.
Regular soda is also harmful to teeth, according to the study by Dr. Mohamed A. Bassiouny, but diet soda drinkers tend to consume more on a daily basis.
The example of tooth decay from diet soda cited by Bassiouny is a woman who, for financial reasons, had not seen a dentist in two decades.
"They're about the same. If you drink any soda, period, you're going to increase your risk of having dental cavities," said Dr. Jay Anderson of the OHSU Department of Community Dentistry. "It's about dose. It's about how much you drink"
But he told KGW that diet soda is also more acidic than regular soda. That acid is the common link between the effects of drugs and of soda on the teeth.
Anderson said saliva protects the teeth, and meth and cocaine consumption reduce that protection. Drinking soda has a similar effect by producing more acid than the saliva can protect against.
He recommended chewing sugarless gum with xylitol or rinsing your mouth with water after drinking soda.
KGW Reporter Erica Heartquist contributed to this report.