11 May 2015

A new study looking into the tooth wear of adults has determined that soft drinks could play the most significant role in the severity of dental erosion.

The findings, published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry, showed a substantial proportion of adults display some evidence of tooth wear while those with the more severe cases more likely to consume sugar-based soft drinks and fruit juices.

Results from 3,773 adults revealed that almost four in every five adults (79 per cent) had some evidence of tooth wear, two-thirds (64 per cent) presented mild tooth wear, one in ten (10 per cent) moderate tooth wear while one in 20 (5 per cent) exhibited severe tooth wear.1

Furthermore, researchers found those with moderate and severe tooth wear consumed more soft drinks and fruit juices daily than other groups.

Many soft drinks and fruit juices contain at least six teaspoons of sugar and come in portions larger than recommended, not only leading to dental erosion but quite often tooth decay.Soft Drinks

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, said: "While fruit juices can be a good way to get people to consume more fruit, the high concentration of sugar and acids means that they can do real damage to the teeth if regularly consumed throughout the day.

"Water and milk are the best choices by far, not only for the good of our oral health but our overall health too. Remember, it is how often we have sugary foods and drinks that causes the problem so it is important that we try and reduce the frequency of consumption.

"Labels that say ‘no added sugar' do not necessarily mean that the product is sugar free - it simply means that no extra sugar has been added. These drinks may contain sugars such as those listed as sucrose, maltose, glucose, and fructose, or the sugars may be listed as ‘carbohydrates'."

The research also found that milk was a far more popular choice in those participants who showed reduced levels of tooth wear. Men were more than twice as likely to suffer from dental erosion as women while tooth wear became considerably more severe with age.

Despite the impact of soft drinks and fruit juices being repeatedly analysed, this could be first report on the prevalence and severity of tooth wear and its relationship with fruit juice consumption in a large national sample.

Dental erosion is the loss of tooth enamel caused by acid attack from sugary foods and drinks. Enamel is the hard, protective coating of the tooth, which protects the sensitive dentine underneath. When the enamel is worn away, the dentine underneath is exposed, which may lead to pain and sensitivity.

"Dental erosion does not always need to be treated. With regular check-ups and advice your dental team can prevent the problem getting any worse and the erosion going any further. The more severe cases of tooth wear can often result in invasive and costly treatment so it is important that we keep to a good oral hygiene routine to make sure these future problems do not arise," Dr Carter added.


1. Okunseri et al (2015) ‘The relationship between consumption of beverages and tooth wear among adults in the United States' Journal of Public Health Dentistry, doi: 10.1111/jphd.12096