In a new study by the Australian Dental Association (ADA), including more than 700 children aged six to 15, at least 68 per cent showed some sign of tooth erosion. The ADA says that the pattern of tooth erosion is similar to that seen in wine drinkers. But due to the surge in fruit juice bar and sports drinks products, which are popular among young people, children have been affected.
ADA president Neil Hewson says there is a simple way to avoid these problems. He advised that fruit juice and carbonated drinks need to be drunk more quickly or sipped using a straw so the acid won't touch the teeth. Sipping water after drinking soda would also clear the mouth of acid he said.
Former Queensland Dental Association president Martin Webb said that these drinks may be called “decay in a bottle”, with their high acidity and sugar content that override the mouth’s natural defences.
Another study conducted by the ADA in partnership with consumer group Choice found that energy drinks such as Red Bull and V had higher acid levels than most other fizzy drinks. In Victoria it was found 80% of 12- to 17-year-olds regularly drank sugary soft drinks, with 10% consuming three cans a day. Mr. Webb explained, “Energy drinks are high in sugar content and quite high in acid, the ingredients of erosion.” He also said that athletes could rehydrate better with water than with these drinks. Lactic acid build-up from sport is present in the mouth and when sugar is added through the energy drinks, the effect is to demineralise the teeth. Unless plenty of water is taken and salivation is stimulated, a layer is stripped from the teeth. It does not come back. “We also see the degree of erosion that’s caused when people drink large quantities of orange juice and black cola drinks. It strips a thin layer off the teeth,” Mr Webb said.
These findings come on the Dental Health Week starting Monday where tooth erosion was the focus of discussion. This condition involves gradual wearing away or dissolving of the outer enamel layer of the teeth. It results in teeth appearing shorter and having visibly worn surfaces. It can lead to increased tooth sensitivity and cause difficulty in eating. Other factors related to this condition include dry mouth, gastric reflux, and brushing teeth too soon after particular foods or drinks.