Tooth erosion influenced by how and what people eat and drink

Research by King’s College London has revealed that the chances of developing tooth erosion can be significantly increased by eating and drinking acidic foods and drinks, particularly between meals.

Researchers in the study identified foods, drinks and medications which can cause tooth erosion. Chief among these were drinks that had added fruit or fruit flavourings, with researchers claiming that putting fruit or fruit flavouring in a drink can increase the erosive potential of a drink to put it on a par with cola.

The study found that consuming acidic drinks, such as soft drinks or hot fruit flavoured teas, twice a day between meals can increase the chances of moderate to severe tooth erosion by 11 times.

The study also found that:

  • Sugar-free soft drinks are as erosive as sugar-sweetened ones
  • Fruit flavoured teas, sweets, lozenges or medications have severe erosive potential when consumed regularly
  • Sipping, swishing, holding or rinsing drinks in the mouth prior to swallowing increases the risk of tooth erosion
  • The increase in patients with tooth erosion may be linked to changing patterns of eating, such as increased snacking in both children and adults
  • Drinks are more likely to cause tooth erosion when served hot
  • Vinegars and pickled products can also lead to tooth erosion.

“It is well known that an acidic diet is associated with erosive tooth wear, however our study has shown the impact of the way in which acidic food and drinks are consumed,” Dr Saoirse O’Toole, lead author of the study, said.

“Reducing dietary acid intake can be key to delaying progression of tooth erosion,” Dr O’Toole went on to note. “While behaviour change can be difficult to achieve, specific, targeted behavioural interventions may prove successful.”

Tooth erosion affects more than 30% of adults around Europe, with the study ranking it as ‘the third most important’ dental condition.