As a dentist in Lincolnshire, we’ve seen a growing rise in dental erosion in adults and children who – on the surface, at least – appear to be following a healthy diet and lifestyle. The cause? Fruit juices.
While you may think that fruit juices, smoothies, sports drinks and eating your 5-a-day in the form of fruit is giving you valuable vitamins, it may also be wearing away the enamel that gives your teeth their hard surface. This can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss.
Back in May 2015, a study called The relationship between consumption of beverages and tooth wear among adults in the United States was published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry. It found a direct link between sugary soft drinks and fruit juices and the most severe cases of dental erosion.
Of the 3,773 adults included in the American study, 79% of them had dental erosion: 64% had mild tooth wear, 10% had moderate tooth wear, and five percent had severe tooth wear. The people with moderate to severe tooth wear were those who consume more fruit juice and fruit a day than in the other groups.
Other studies have found that one in ten children under the age of three now have signs of dental erosion and tooth decay. Again, the fruit juices and sugary drinks are the main culprits. Current nutritional advice is that children should only have a maximum of 5.5 teaspoons of added sugar in their diet every day but, in reality, most children are eating 40% more sugar a day than they should. Fruit juices, often offered to children in bottles and sippy cups, are attacking their teeth for sustained periods every day.
Why does fruit cause tooth erosion?
Fruit juices and sugary drinks contain high concentrations of sugar (around six teaspoons per helping); this sugar is acidic, which we know attacks tooth enamel. If you only drink fruit juices or sugary drinks occasionally, this shouldn’t cause too much damage because the saliva in your mouth will counteract the acidity and restore the pH balance to protect your enamel. However, if you drink fruit juices throughout your day, your saliva won’t get a chance to neutralise the acid, leading to a sustained attack on your teeth.
Milk and water are far better choices when it comes to protecting your teeth.
Of course, fruit does still have important nutritional benefits. To keep the number of times a day your teeth are under attack from acid to a minimum, we recommend that you eat your fruit at the end of a meal or have a fruit juice as your mealtime drink. During the rest of the day, try to up your water intake and cut down on your smoothies.
If you currently give your child fruit juices, it’s important to try to switch what they drink to water and milk. If your child is over one, they should be encouraged to drink from a cup, so there isn’t a teat or spout that they can rest against their teeth. If you’re struggling to get your child to drink anything but fruit juices, try watering the fruit juice down and offering it at mealtimes with water in between.
When patients come to the Dental Health Centre as a dentist in Lincolnshire, we offer lots of practical advice around ways to protect your teeth from decay through simple dietary changes and food swaps. We’re passionate about you attending regular check-ups so that we can keep an eye out for signs of dental erosion and come up with a plan of action before the problem escalates.
Dental erosion isn’t inevitable – it can be painful, expensive and lead to a wide range of health problems. With our help, it is something you will never experience.
If you are worried about dental erosion or you simply want to book a check-up with a dentist in Lincolnshire, call us at the Dental Health Centre on 01476 594480 to book an appointment.