A new study has revealed that sugary soft drinks and fruit juices are the biggest causes of dental erosion – a process that occurs when the hard, protective coating of the tooth is worn away by exposure to acid.
When we eat or drink anything acidic, tooth enamel becomes softer and loses its mineral content. Typically, saliva cancels out the acidity so the mouth’s natural balance is restored. However, if the acid attacks occur frequently, the mouth is left with little time to repair itself, leading to dental erosion.
A team of researchers set out to investigate the relationship between dental erosion and consumption of sugary soft drinks and fruit juices – most of which contain at least six teaspoons of sugar.
For the study, they recruited 3,773 adults and examined their teeth and sugary beverage intake.
It was found that 79 per cent of the participants had some signs of dental erosion, 64 per cent had mild tooth erosion, 10 per cent had moderate tooth wear, and 5 per cent had severe tooth decay.
Those in the moderate and severe tooth wear groups consumed more soft drinks and fruit juices each day than those in the mild tooth erosion groups, with the participants in the latter opting to drink milk more often.
What’s more, the results showed that men were twice at risk of dental erosion than women, with the severity of tooth wear among the participants increasing with age.
Commenting on the study, Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: “Water and milk are the best choices by far, not only for the good of our oral health but our overall health too. Remember, it is how often we have sugary foods and drinks that causes the problem so it is important that we try and reduce the frequency of consumption. Dental erosion does not always need to be treated. With regular check-ups and advice, your dental team can prevent the problem getting any worse and the erosion going any further. The more severe cases of tooth wear can often result in invasive and costly treatment, so it is important that we keep to a good oral hygiene routine to make sure these future problems do not arise.”
The study has been published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry.