Purpose: Despite the presence or absence of artificial sweeteners in cola drinks, both regular and diet soft drinks still contain phosphoric and citric acid, which contributes to the total acidic challenge potential on enamel. The purpose of this study was to assess the plaque pH, in vivo, after a substrate challenge of diet and regular soft drinks.
Methods: Seventeen subjects were recruited for this study. All subjects were between the ages of 12 and 15 and had at least 4 restored tooth surfaces present. The subjects were given consent by their parents and were asked to refrain from brushing for 48 hours prior to the study. At baseline, plaque pH was measured from 4 separate locations using touch electrode methodology. Each subject was then randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first group was exposed to regular Coke followed by Diet Coke, while the second group was exposed to Diet Coke followed by regular Coke. Subjects were asked to swish with 15 ml of the respective soft drink for one minute. Plaque pH was measured at the 4 designated tooth sites at 5-, 10- and 20-minute intervals. Subjects then repeated the experiment using the other soft drink.
Results: The results showed that regular Coke had significantly more acidic plaque pH values at the 5-, 10- and 20-minute intervals compared to Diet Coke, (P = < .001), when subjected to a t test. The mean pH at 5 minutes for Coke and Diet Coke was 5.5 +/- 0.5 and 6.0 +/- 0.7, respectively. At 10 minutes, the pH for Coke and Diet Coke was 5.6 +/- 0.6 and 6.2 +/- 0.7, respectively. The pH at 20 minutes for Coke and Diet Coke was 5.7 +/- 0.7 and 6.5 +/- 0.5, respectively.
Conclusions: These data suggest that regular Coke possesses a greater acid challenge potential on enamel than Diet Coke. However, in this clinical trial, the pH associated with either soft drink did not reach the critical pH which is expected for enamel demineralization and dissolution.