If you are sipping hot fruit tea as you read this, you might rethink your drinking practice. A recent analysis reveals that it is not only what we drink and eat which can affect tooth erosion but how we drink and eat.
Scientists have found that the way in which we ingest dietary acids can influence the tooth erosion risk. Researchers from King’s College London in the United Kingdom wanted to find out which acidic foods are the worst for tooth erosion. And whether the way in which we ingest such foods has an effect.
Research leader Dr. Saoirse O’Toole, who works in the Department of Tissue Engineering and Biophotonics at the King’s College London Dental Institute, and his team report their findings in the British Dental Journal.
Tooth erosion is also known as acid erosion or dental erosion. It occurs when acids eat away tooth enamel, which covers the outer layer of each tooth. Over time, this destruction could give rise to tooth sensitivity, discoloration, and even tooth loss.
One of the leading causes of tooth erosion is acids present in our drinks and foods. Soda and fruit juices are among the major offenders.
That said, as Dr. O’Toole and his colleagues’ report, persons who consume such foods do not practice tooth loss, which begs the question: does how we consume dietetic acids influence our risk of tooth erosion?
The researchers principally drew on data from a previous study to find out this. It included about 600 adults. Of these, 300 adults had severe tooth erosion, whereas the remaining 300 did not.
Acidic drinks, foods worst for tooth erosion
As part of the study, participants were asked to state their timing, frequency, and duration of dietary acid consumption. Moreover, subjects were requested to describe any drinking habits earlier to swallowing acidic drinks. For instance, sipping some hot drinks or swishing these drinks in the mouth. The researchers also considered the data from other researches to report the worst beverages and foods for tooth erosion.
Expectedly, the study revealed that acidic beverages and foods posed the highest risk of tooth erosion.
The research team found that the risk of moderate or severe tooth erosion was 11 times greater for those adults who drank acidic beverages twice daily, particularly when they were consumed between meals, as compared to those who consumed such drinks less often.
When acidic drinks were taken with meals, the risk of tooth erosion was reduced to half. “It was also found that one or less dietary acid consumptions a day was not related with erosive tooth wear,” the researchers say. “If a patient must go beyond one dietary acid ingestion per day, it would be sensible to counsel them to ingest the acids with meals.”
But when consumed frequently, fruit teas and even fruit-flavored medications may pose a tooth erosion risk, the team accounts, as can pickled foods and vinegar.
Amusingly, the scientists found that adding fruit flavors to beverages, like adding lemon to hot water, made them as acidic as cola. Moreover, sugar-free soda was found to be erosive for teeth just like sugar-sweetened soda. Also, hot drinks were found to have bigger erosive potential than any other cold drink.
Sipping, swishing drinks may erode teeth
Notably, though, the researchers found that it is not only the type of drinks and foods we consume that influence risk of tooth erosion. But the study also exposed that the risk of tooth erosion is enlarged when we sip drinks. This risk also increases when we swish, hold, or rinse them in the mouth before swallowing.
According t oDr. Saoirse O’Toole, ‘it is very well known that an acidic food is related to erosive tooth wear. But, our study has revealed the impact of the mode in which acidic beverages and foods are consumed.’
The American Dental Association commend against swishing or holding acidic beverages in the mouth. They describe that drinking milk or water while eating and washing mouth after consuming acidic drinks is useful. As it may help decrease tooth erosion.
“With the occurrence of erosive tooth wear increasing,” says Dr. O’ Toole, “it is extremely vital that we report this preventable side of erosive tooth wear.” “Decreasing intake of dietary acid can be vital to delaying tooth erosion progression,” she adds. “While a change in behavior can be difficult to achieve, but specific, targeted behavioral interferences may prove effective.”