Study shows acidic foods and drinks are harmful to tooth enamel.
By now, everyone should be aware of the harmful effects of drinking sugar-loaded soft drinks on the enamel of one’s teeth, but a new study says the sugar-free versions are harmful as well.
According to an article on medicalnewstoday.com, researchers at the Oral Health Cooperative Research Center (CRC) in Australia, tested 23 different types of soft drinks and sports drinks that are labeled as sugar-free, and found the ones with acidic additives or low pH levels cause damage to tooth enamel also.
Dental professionals have known for some time that sugar is tied to tooth decay, due to the fact that sugar forms a plaque on the surface of the tooth which breeds bacteria that convert it to acid. It is the acid that attacks the outer layer of tooth enamel, so it would follow that drinks high in acidity would also be damaging to the tooth’s enamel.
Eric Reynolds, a professor at Melbourne Dental School and CEO of Oral Health CRC, explained initially the acid damages the outer enamel on the tooth’s surface, but continues to progress, and in an advanced stage, can damage the soft pulp inside the tooth.
He added that many people are unaware that a chemical mix of acids in some foods and drinks can be as harmful to the teeth as the foods you are replacing while trying to reduce your intake of sugar.
The findings revealed that the majority of the soft drinks and sports drinks tested resulted in a softening of the dental enamel by as much a one half. Also, both sugar-free and regular beverages, including flavored mineral waters, did not have a significant difference with regard to the softening of the enamel.
Of the eight sports drinks the team tested, six caused loss of dental enamel, noting the two that did not cause loss of enamel, were ones with a higher calcium content.
The researchers cautioned people to look for acidic additives, such as citric acid and phosphoric acid, when selecting sugar-free products, and after consuming acidic products, wait for an hour or so to brush your teeth, since brushing too soon could loosen soft enamel.
If you drink acidic beverages, the team recommended you chew sugarless gum to increase your saliva to help neutralize the acid.