New research indicates sugar-free beverage may erode tooth enamel

New research published online in JADA Foundational Science, an open access journal, has examined whether “non-carbonated bottled water, flavored sparkling water and plain sparkling water might cause dental erosion” with findings indicating sugar-free beverage may erode tooth enamel.

Published in the light of viral TikTok content where balsamic vinegar and flavoured sparkling water were combined – in excess of 6.3 million views as of late June – to create what was positioned as a healthier alternative to soft drinks, the research, featured in an article on News Medical: Life Sciences, “adds to our understanding about the importance of limiting consumption of acidic beverages.”

It is well documented that acidic foods and beverages may wear away at tooth enamel, with the resultant erosion, which is permanent leading to the development of caries, a serious issue for many people with the ADA’s Australia’s Oral Health Tracker showing that 32.1% of people aged 15 and above had untreated tooth decay while noting that “untreated tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in childhood”.

Erosion was observed by researchers in recently extracted human teeth which had been placed for twenty-four hours in seven different sugar-free beverages – seen as equivalent to a year’s worth of tooth enamel exposure to these drinks – with the worst damage occurring in sugary soft drinks and their sugar-free counterparts.

Damage was also noted as having taken place in flavoured sparkling water though not to the same extent.

A spokesperson for the American Dental Association, Dr. Edmond Hewlett, had this to say about the research findings.

“I love balsamic vinegar, but I enjoy it more on my salad than in my drinking glass. It’s much kinder to the teeth than bathing them in a beverage blend of two acids. The more acidic the drink, the greater the risk of tooth erosion with frequent consumption.”

He recommended consumption of fluoridated tap water, as the preferred beverage of choice, a position also held by the ADA which notes on its consumer oral health information site, Teeth.org.au that “Hidden sugars in foods and drinks” increase the risk of tooth decay and that the following four measures can help people to protect and care for the health of their teeth and gums.

– Brush twice per day using a fluoride toothpaste.

– Clean between the teeth daily using floss or interdental brushes.

– Eat a healthy, balanced diet that is low in added sugar.

– Visit the dentist regularly.

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