High acidity drinks like soft drinks, sports beverages and fruit juice are known to present dangers to our teeth, but when they team up with night-time teeth grinding and acid reflux, these drinks really pack a punch.
First, acid attacks enamel
Researchers from the University of Adelaide have been examining the effects of sugary, acid-laden beverages for a while, and have recently demonstrated that these drinks can cause life-long damage to teeth within 30 seconds of imbibing! The acidic drinks begin to attack tooth enamel immediately. What’s worse, many people “sip” these drinks over long periods, and few brush their teeth afterwards. This means tooth enamel is bathed in damaging acid, and over years, this exposure can seriously compromise dental health.
Then pathogens move in
Tooth enamel protects the softer dentin from pathogens. When the enamel is compromised, this creates an opening for bacteria to come in and make themselves at home. The problem compounds itself because not only is the acid in soft drinks eating away at the tooth enamel, but the sugary beverages feed bacteria as well. Metabolism of sugar leads to more acid, more enamel erosion, and worse.
The triple threat
The study reports a “triple-threat” to tooth health that includes two other increasing problems among younger patients: the rise in the incidence of bruxism (tooth grinding) and acid reflux. Scientists report that when these three elements are all present – acidic drinks, bruxism, and acid reflux – the damage to young people’s teeth could be permanent.
The scientists note that dental erosion is only detectable clinically after significant damage occurs. The goal of this study is to stop this damage from ever happening through preventative care– in the form of avoiding acidic drinks.
How did we get here?
To address this, many health providers will point out that the elements of the triple-threat against dental health are also interrelated. Many existing studies already indicate that young people are under unprecedented stress for their generation’s age: a common precursor to nightly tooth-grinding. Additionally, obesity in young people is also trending upwards, and with it the correlation between sugary drinks. Unhealthy dietary habits, like sipping on acidic drinks, is a common side-effect experienced by people under a lot of stress.
Researchers emphasize that preventative dental care in the form of proper nutrition is critical in maintaining optimum dental health for young people. The team at McKinney Smiles wants to add to that: oral health affects your whole body, so why not take care of your oral health from a whole body perspective? Addressing issues like stress and maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise are not just what will provide our kids with great oral health – it will help them to succeed in all areas of life.