Image: iStock. By: Laureate Professor Eric Reynolds, CEO of the Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre, University of Melbourne.
Cutting down on sugar-laden soft drinks and lollies is a wise decision for your waistline and a great move to reduce the risk of dental decay. But even if you avoid sugar, it’s important to know that diet and sugar-free drinks and lollies can still wreak havoc on your dental health.
The Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre has tested a range of sugar-free drinks and lollies on extracted human teeth. Unfortunately, many of these products are bad news for tooth enamel.
The majority of soft drinks and sports drinks we tested caused softening of dental enamel by 30 to 50 per cent. Both sugar-containing and sugar-free soft drinks (including flavoured mineral waters) produced measurable loss of the tooth surface, with no significant difference between the two groups of drinks.
Our briefing paper outlining the findings of the Oral Health CRC’s dental erosion studies calls for better consumer information and product labelling to help people consider their oral health when they choose what to eat or drink.
Trying to have a healthy holiday? Check out Paper Tiger’s tips in the video below. (Post continues after video.)
Tips to avoid tooth erosion and decay
Fluoridated tap water is always the best option for teeth. Milk is excellent because it’s not erosive at all. But be aware that bottled water doesn’t have the same benefits, particularly for children.
Sports drinks, even sugar-free kinds, are also bad for enamel. Water is just as good at rehydrating.
Sugar-free lollies often contain citric acid and can cause significant problems. It’s best to keep consumption of lollies of all kinds to a minimum.
After drinking or eating acidic foods and beverages, don’t brush your teeth straight away. Some people brush too hard and wear away the enamel with the combination of abrasion and erosion. It’s better to drink tap water, rinse it around and harden up the enamel before you brush.
Check ingredients for acidic additives, especially citric acid (ingredient number 330) and phosphoric acid (ingredient number 338).
Have regular check-ups with your oral health professional.