Soft drinks are the most significant factor in severity of dental erosion, according to a new study published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry.
Dental erosion is when enamel – the hard, protective coating of the tooth – is worn away by exposure to acid. The erosion of the enamel can result in pain – particularly when consuming hot or cold food – as it leaves the sensitive dentine area of the tooth exposed.
Anything with a pH value (the measure of acidity) lower than 5.5 can damage the teeth. Diet and regular fizzy drinks, sports drinks, fruit and fruit juices are all known to be harmful to teeth if they are consumed too often.
Examining 3,773 participants, the researchers found that 79% had evidence of dental erosion, 64% had mild tooth wear, 10% had moderate tooth wear and 5% displayed signs of severe tooth wear. The participants in the study with moderate and severe tooth wear consumed more soft drinks and fruit juices each day than the other groups.
Among participants with lower levels of tooth wear, the researchers found that milk was a more popular drink than fizzy drinks or fruit juice.
Men were also found to be at twice the risk for dental erosion as women, and tooth wear became more severe with age.
Many fizzy drinks and fruit juices contain at least six teaspoons of sugar, and as they often come in portions that are larger than recommended, they can lead to tooth decay as well as dental erosion.