Fizzy drinks are very popular amongst British teenagers. I find this worrying because cola, lemonade and other sparkling drinks are a major cause of tooth erosion. A study published in the British Dental Journal revealed the risk of tooth erosion in 14-year olds who drink carbonated drinks to be 220 percent higher than those who did not.
The way these drinks are described suggest they are harmless: soft drinks, fizzy drinks, energy drinks and even sports drinks. However, acids are usually among the additives and play an important role either as a preservative or to enhance taste. So, even if the drinks are sugar-free, they are still harmful if you drink them regularly between meals.
So fizzy water must be all right? Well, I’m sorry to say that the carbonation of the water forms carbonic acid so even sparkling water should be drunk in moderation. And drinking ‘diet’ soft drinks is no better since artificial sweeteners are also acidic.
At our clinic, we are supporting the British Dental Association’s “Make a meal of it” campaign and among the changes the BDA would like to see are: a tax on sugary fizzy drinks and a ban on vending machines selling fizzy drinks and sweets in schools.
Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, says it’s unrealistic to consider banning these drinks altogether. And anyway, it is the excessive consumption of these drinks which is the problem and leads to erosion.
So here are some tips for keeping teeth enamel intact:
- Limit fizzy drinks to one glass a day with food
- Drinking with a straw reduces exposure of the tooth enamel to the acid
- Remember that decay is as damaging as erosion and both are caused by the impact of acid – so limit snacking on sweet foods too
- Do not brush straight after a meal as acidic food and drink softens the enamel for about an hour, leaving it prone to damage
- Between meals, drink milk and water
- Never give sparkling drinks to very young children
- Do not over brush your teeth as this is abrasive and can wear them down