Soft drinks cause permanent damage to young mouths

Research suggests 30 seconds is all that acidic drinks need to cause lifelong damage to tooth enamel

By Rajit Sengupta
Published: Thursday 07 August 2014


Soft drinks, fruit juice or even the so-called health drinks can permanently damage young people’s teeth, says a new study. Dental researchers at the University of Adelaide have for the first time demonstrated that drinks high in acidity can cause lifelong damage to the teeth within the first 30 seconds of acid attack.

“Our research has shown that permanent damage to the tooth enamel will occur within the first 30 seconds of high acidity coming into contact with the teeth. This is an important finding and it suggests that such drinks are best avoided. If high acidity drinks are consumed, it is not simply a matter of having a child clean their teeth an hour or 30 minutes later and hoping they will be okay – the damage is already done,” says Sarbin Ranjitkar, corresponding author of a paper on tooth enamel erosion published in the Journal of Dentistry.

The researchers say drinks high in acidity combined with night-time tooth grinding and reflux can cause major, irreversible damage to young people’s teeth. “Dental erosion is an issue of growing concern in developed countries, and it is often only detected clinically after extensive tooth wear has occurred. Such erosion can lead to a lifetime of compromised dental health that may require complex and extensive rehabilitation–but it is also preventable with minimal intervention,” Ranjitkar says.

The number of cases of tooth erosion from the consumption of acidic beverages is on the rise in children and young adults. As a result, parents should minimise consumption of any kind of soft drinks, sports drink, fruit juice or acidic foods to their children.

The research suggests children consume fresh fruit instead of drinking fruit juice. “Although fresh fruit is naturally acidic, it is a healthier option to fruit juice, which can have additional food acids in it. The important thing to appreciate is that there is a balance between acids and host protection in a healthy mouth. Once that balance is shifted in favor of the acids, regardless of the type of acid, teeth become damaged,” he says.


Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.