Pearly whites beware. Drinking diet soda is just as bad for your teeth as crystal meth and even crack, a new study published in General Dentistry shows. Mohamed Bassiouny, professor of restorative dentistry from Temple University School of Dentistry, drew the conclusions after studying a woman who drank two liters of soda every day for almost five years.

"None of the teeth affected by erosion were salvageable," Bassiouny told U.S. News and World Report.

Bassiouny found that the amount of damage the woman in her 30s did to her teeth was equivalent to the enamel damage a 29-year-old meth addict and 51-year-old crack addict had. But the meth user also drank two to three cans of regular soda each day because he said his mouth felt dry, while the crack user consumed excess soda nearly four times as long as the woman.

Perhaps the most alarming discovery was that woman admitted to not going to a dentist in two decades, making it all the more convincing preventative measures could have helped her decaying teeth. The woman also added that she chose diet over regular soda to watch her weight. Although diet soda has considerably low calories, the switch clearly did her no good (see picture below).

The patient who consumed diet soda had tooth decay, discoloration of dentin, Bassiouny noted.

But the study left room for debate. The American Beverage Association told HealthDay News that "the woman referenced in this article did not receive dental health services for more than 20 years — two-thirds of her life. To single out diet soda consumption as the unique factor in her tooth decay and erosion — and to compare it to that from illicit drug use — is irresponsible."

"The body of available science does not support that beverages are a unique factor in causing tooth decay or erosion," they added. "However, we do know that brushing and flossing our teeth, along with making regular visits to the dentist, play a very important role in preventing them."

Not everyone would agree with the Beverage Association, and there is some scientific data supporting this study's conclusion. The low-caloric beverage has a low pH of 3.2, meaning it's very acidic compared to water that has a pH of 7 — and acids will eat away at teeth enamel, leaving them more susceptible According to researchers from the University of Michigan, adults who consume three or more sodas every day have more decay, fillings, and missing teeth.

Diet soda also has a range of other side effects, including changing metabolism and causing kidney problems. Harvard Medical School performed a study that followed 3,000 women for 11 years and discovered diet cola drinkers have a two-fold increased risk for kidney decline. They believe the diet sweeteners were the culprits.

Source: M. Bassiouny. Dental erosion due to abuse of illicit drugs and acidic carbonated beverages. General Dentistry. 2013