Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Juice can be as bad as Cola

(Nugget: some fruit juices and carbonated soft drinks are as highly acidic as pH 3.4.
The tooth surface is composed of calcium salts that are highly vulnerable to acidic attack.)

Caroline Daniels had always prided herself on the fact she ate a healthy diet, exercised regularly and avoided too much alcohol. On nights out with friends, she’d sip on Coke, rather than wine, and every day she drank fruit juice rather than teas and coffees.

But then, two years ago, she started suffering agonising pains in her teeth.

‘Just a sip of cold orange juice would send a sharp pain through my teeth and up towards my gums,’ says the 54-year-old assistant shop manager from Epsom, Surrey.

‘And cold fizzy drinks were just as bad. The pain was enough to make me wince or even gasp out loud. It got to the point where I’d leave my drink untouched.’

The sugar and acid in the juices had attacked the enamel of my teeth, and the fizzy drinks would not have helped. I was amazed, because I’d thought I was being so healthy.’

What’s more, Caroline was making the situation worse by brushing her teeth immediately after drinking. This is because the enamel is softened for up to an hour after drinking acidic juices, making it vulnerable to aggressive brushing.

(Extra : There are several causes of erosion - including acid reflux, when natural acids in the stomach flow up the mouth, sometimes eroding the back teeth, and over-brushing with abrasive toothpastes.

However, it is thought that the main culprit is acids in our diet, found in fruit juices and fizzy drinks. Research in the U.S., published last year, found that daily exposure to fruit juice caused even more damage to tooth enamel than some of the controversial home whitening treatments.)

Solutions : The impact of acidic drinks can be minimised by ensuring they are only drunk with meals - drink still water at other times. And when you do have acidic drinks, they are best drunk through a straw to minimise the contact with teeth.’

Sugar-free chewing gum, which increases the flow of saliva, can also help, as can finishing a meal with milk or cheese, which neutralises acid.

For many, the warnings come too late - and treating the problem once it has occurred is difficult. Tooth erosion is more difficult to treat than tooth decay because it affects the entire surface of a tooth, rather than causing just a cavity.

Toothpastes for sensitive teeth can help. These work by coating the teeth, minimising sensitivity.

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