Even sugar-free sodas, sports drinks and candy can damage your teeth, a new study warns.
Australian researchers tested 23 sugar-free and sugar-containing products, including soft drinks and sports drinks, and found that some with acidic additives and low pH levels (a measure of acidity) harm teeth, even if they are sugar-free.
"Many people are not aware that while reducing your sugar intake does reduce your risk of dental decay, the chemical mix of acids in some foods and drinks can cause the equally damaging condition of dental erosion," said Eric Reynolds. He is laureate professor and CEO of the Oral Health Cooperative Research Center at Melbourne University.
Dental erosion occurs when acid dissolves the tooth's hard tissues. "In its early stages erosion strips away the surface layers of tooth enamel. If it progresses to an advanced stage it can expose the soft pulp inside the tooth," he explained in a university news release.
Reynolds and his colleagues found that most soft drinks and sports drinks caused dental enamel to soften by between 30 percent and 50 percent. Both sugar-free and sugar-containing soft drinks and flavored mineral waters caused measurable loss of the tooth surface.
Of the eight sports drinks tested, six caused loss of tooth enamel. The researchers also found that many sugar-free candies contain high levels of citric acid and can erode tooth enamel.
Just because something is sugar-free doesn't necessarily mean it's safe for teeth, Reynolds said. The study highlights the need for better product labeling and consumer information to help people choose food and drinks that are safe for their teeth, he added.
Reynolds offered several tips to help you protect your teeth. Check product labels for acidic additives, especially citric acid and phosphoric acid. Drink more water (preferably fluoridated) and fewer soft drinks and sports drinks. And, finally, after consuming acidic food and drinks, rinse your mouth with water and wait an hour before brushing your teeth. Brushing immediately can remove the softened enamel, he said.
1. Brush Your Mouth OftenNot just your teeth, you should brush everything in your mouth. Your gums, your tongue, the roof of your mouth. All of these things need to be brushed and brushed often. This will help keep your teeth cleaner longer and prevent germs from taking root.
2. Floss OftenAs most dentists will tell you, flossing is a good thing to do to keep your teeth clean. Brushing can clean the surfaces, but can't do much for the spaces in between. You need to floss to get a totally clean, and you should floss at least once a day.
3. Eat A Teeth-Friendly DietMost people indulge in sugary foods because they taste good. However, sometimes the best tasting foods can be the most harmful to your teeth. Things like sodas, candies, and other sugary items should be consumed in moderation.
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