Savouring a sweet tea or a water with a dash of lemon might seem like a healthy and refreshing snack option, but new research says it's actually eroding your teeth.
Researchers from the King's College London Dental Institute looked at the role of diet in tooth wear by reviewing recent data. Their findings, published online Friday in the British Dental Journal, are that drinking acidic drinks such as fruit teas and lemon-flavoured water can leave people 11 times more likely to suffer tooth erosion, according to the Mirror.
"Increased frequency of dietary acid consumption, particularly between meals appears to be the predominant risk factor. However, habitually drinking acidic drinks by sipping them slowly or swishing, rinsing or holding acidic drinks in the mouth before swallowing will also increase risk of progression," lead author Dr. Saoirse O'Toole said in the study.
"Additions of fruit or fruit flavourings to drinks and regular consumption of vinegars, pickles, acidic medications or acidic sugar-free sweets are potential hidden risk factors that should be discussed with patients at risk of erosive tooth wear progression."
Dental erosion is common in Canada
Canada's dentists are seeing more and more people with dental erosion, which is what happens when the hard part of the tooth wears away from contact with acid, the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) said in an earlier news release.
"Dental erosion can be caused by certain health conditions such as stomach acid problems and eating disorders, but eating and drinking foods high in acid such as sport drinks and soft drinks can also cause teeth to erode," the CDA said.
To prevent erosion, the CDA suggests choosing drinks low in acid, to avoid swishing or holding high-acid drinks in your mouth for a long period of time, and to consume high-acid food and drinks at mealtimes (as opposed to on their own as snacks) since there will still be "plenty of saliva in your mouth to wash away sugars and acids."
For snacks that won't harm your teeth, the CDA suggests: plain milk and buttermilk, fruit and raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese, hard boiled or devilled eggs, nuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, melba toast, and salads.
The problem is increasing as people snack more
Children and adults are both increasing the number of snacks they have per day, the researchers said. At the same time, the addition of fruit or fruit flavours to drinks has also increased. This simple addition to a glass of water can make a drink as corrosive as a cola drink, the researchers noted.
"A patient may simply record water without realizing the alteration in erosive potential through adding a simple slice of lemon or dash of fruit cordial," they said in the study.
"However, it has been shown that fresh lemon or lime has a citric acid concentration greater than six times the amount of lemonade formulations or lemon dilutables."
Fruit-flavoured teas (such as lemon and ginger teas) fruit-flavoured sweets, and lozanges also have a "large erosive potential," the researchers said.
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