Parents are being warned by dental researchers at the University of Adelaide about the dangers of drinks high in acidity such as sports drinks, soft drinks and fruit juice. The drinks form says the researchers a triple threat of permanent damage to young peoples teeth.
They say that these drinks that are high in acidity - combined with night-time tooth grinding and reflux - can cause major, irreversible damage and they've been able to demonstrate that lifelong damage that acidity causes within the first 30 seconds it is taken.
Dr. Sarbin Ranijitkar, a member of the university's Cranofacial Biology Research Group and corresponding author on the paper about tooth enamel erosion published in the Journal of Dentistry, says the number of cases of tooth erosion from the consumption of acidic beverages is on the rise in children and young adults. Often, children and adolescents grind their teeth at night and they can have undiagnosed regurgitation or reflux, which brings with it acidity from the stomach, Ranijitkar says. Combined with drinks high in acidity, this creates a triple threat to young peoples teeth which can cause long-term damage. 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 comprised dental health that may require complex and extensive rehabilitation but it is also preventable with minimal intervention.
Dr. Ranijitkar advises parents to minimize to their children consumption of any kind of soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit juice or acidic foods. 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, he says. 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'll be okay the damage is already done.
He also suggests for children to 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 is to appreciate 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.
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