Open Wide - The Official Blog of The Chicago Dental Society

Permanent link  CDS Blogging Contest: Your health should come first


Last fall, the Chicago Dental Society turned its newspaper journalism contest into a blogging contest open to any high school student in Cook, Lake or DuPage County who answered the question, "Is Soda Just Liquid Candy?"

Full details are available on the contest Web page. The deadline for entries was February 1, 2010.

This entry is by Ingrid H. 

Rrrring rring rring, rrring rrring rring! I pick up my cell phone, inwardly cringing as I see my mom is calling, "Where are you, honey?" I tell her that my dad, my brother, and I are at the Coca-Cola center in Las Vegas. She explodes, firing questions and reminders: why would we ever go there, did we forget that dad is diabetic, Coke makes my brother hyper, drinking soda is prohibited because soda rots our teeth. But these reprimands came seconds too late; as my mother lectured me, my father was already strolling towards our table with the International Coca-Cola Platter, comprising sixteen different variations of the beverage, all for $7.99.

Carbonated beverages are gradually taking over our society. Vending machines are conveniently located around every corner of schools. Soda has replaced milk as the preferred beverage to accompany meals, particularly fast-food meals such as McDonald's, Subway, and Pizza Hut. High school teacher Mr. Richardson adds that "Society understands and accepts that soda is detrimental to one's oral and physical health, but rarely pauses to ponder the consequences of regularly consuming soft drinks." In an interview with Victoria Lo, a junior at the Illinois Math and Science Academy, she revealed that "Most of my friends buy a Mountain Dew or Coke, promising that next time they definitely will not drink soda again; other friends offer the excuse that they regularly exercise and can afford the extra calories; and then some of my friends simply do not care about the harmful effects of soft drinks." In any case, it is safe to assume that a large portion of America's teenagers are addicted to soda.

One may characterize soft drinks using two terms: bubbly and sweet. Accordingly, Waubonsie Valley High School alumni Latisha James admits, "when I open a can or bottle of soda and hear the hissing sound of pressure escaping and see bubbles rising to the surface, it gives me a secret pleasure that nothing else, not even hanging with my people, compares to." Evidently, society accepts this addiction is more than an alcohol or drug addiction, but it is harmful, nonetheless.

Any health professional would recognize that soda is degenerative for teeth. Dr. Jennifer Chen, owner of Bright Dental, explains that "soda contains carbonate and phosphoric acid, which demineralizes teeth, especially calcium. Tooth enamel is made up of more than 95% calcium, and when people drink soda, the carbonate and phosphoric acid reacts with calcium, extracting the calcium from teeth. This process is called demineralization." Other dental businesses cite soda as the cause of gum-line problems and root decay.

In areas where soft drinks are cheaper than water, tooth decay is almost inevitable. However, in the United States, a simple lifestyle change could save your teeth. Instead of following the example of Victoria Lo's friends or Latisha James, people should take to heart the advice of dental practitioners like Dr. Chen. Because when you truly think about it, instant, albeit sweet and bubbly, gratification is not worth compensating your oral health-even if said carbonated beverage is the Coca-Cola factory's International Platter, comprising sixteen different variations of Coke all for the low price of $7.99.