Monday, March 28, 2011

Chew your calories and drink water: Industrial beverages and tooth erosion

Dental erosion is a different problem from dental caries. Dental erosion is defined as the removal of minerals from the tooth structure via chemicals. Dental caries are the result of increased site-specific acidity due to bacterial fermentation of sugars.

Still, both have the same general result, destruction of teeth structure.

Losing teeth probably significantly accelerated death among our Paleolithic ancestors, as it does with modern hunter-gatherers. It is painful and difficult to eat nutritious foods when one has teeth problems, and chronic lack of proper nutrition is the beginning of the end.

The table below, from Ehlen et al. (2008), shows the amount of erosion that occurred when teeth were exposed to beverages for 25 h in vitro. Erosion depth is measured in microns. The third row shows the chance probabilities (i.e., P values) associated with the differences in erosion of enamel and root. These are not particularly enlightening; enamel and root are both significantly eroded.


These results reflect a broader trend. Nearly all industrial beverages cause erosion, even the “healthy” fruit juices. This is due in part, but not entirely, to the acidity of the beverages. Other chemicals contribute to erosion as well. For example, Coke has a lower pH than Gatorade, but the latter causes more erosion of both enamel and root. Still, both pHs are lower than 4.0. The pH of pure water is a neutral 7.0.

Coke is how my name is pronounced, by the way.

This was a study in vitro. Is there evidence of tooth erosion by industrial beverages in people who drink them? Yes, there is quite a lot of evidence, and this evidence dates back many years. You would not guess it by looking at beverage commercials. See, for example, this article.

What about eating the fruits that are used to make the erosion-causing fruit juices? Doesn’t that cause erosion as well? Apparently not, because chewing leads to the release of a powerful protective substance, which is also sometimes exchanged by pairs of people who find each other attractive.

Reference

Leslie A. Ehlen, Teresa A. Marshall, Fang Qian, James S. Wefel, and John J. Warren (2008). Acidic beverages increase the risk of in vitro tooth erosion. Nutrition Research, 28(5), 299–303.

16 comments:

rhinoplasty said...

Drinking water may quite helpful. Thanks for share useful article like this.

Againstthegrain said...

Any idea if plain sparkling mineral water creates a potential dental erosion situation? The carbonation is from carbonic acid, right?

Raj Ganpath said...

"Coke is how my name is pronounced, by the way." - LOL.

Awesome post as always!

Ned Kock said...

Hi rhinoplasty. Thank, drink water helpful, and spam with tipos bad an moronic.

Ned Kock said...

Hi Againstthegrain. Maybe CW is healthy, but only if you consume it with grains.

Seriously, CW’s effect on erosion seems to be minimal:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11556958

Ned Kock said...

Hey Raj, thanks. Believe it or not, I get asked that question a lot.

Ned Kock said...

Note on my comment to Againstthegrain:

CW = carbonated water

Aaron Blaisdell said...

If the chewing is a primary factor in why fruit juices are dental eroding but fruit is not, then one would predict that chewing gum (esp. sugar free) after drinking fruit juice or soda should dramatically reduce dental erosion, right? Not that I would advocate this, but if someone is wed to their SAD beverages, there may be other behaviors that can mitigate some of its negative effects.

Ned Kock said...

Hi Aaron. Chewing “sugar-free” gums would probably help some, especially right after drinking. Maybe using straws and/or rinsing the mouth with water would help more.

David Isaak said...

I have no evidence for this, but I think "chewing" in general is a healthy habit. Even if it is a piece of hay or a twig in the mouth.

That seems to be an instinctive behavior, by the way; in any case, it's a behavior I've observed in cultures from the US to the Pacific Islands to South Asia and the Middle East. People like to chew on things and probe their gums with the sharp ends.

David Isaak said...

The only urgent question here is this: What about a glass of red wine?

Ned Kock said...

Hi David. I’m afraid I have bad news. Wine does cause some tooth erosion, due to its low pH. Good wines, red or white, have pHs around 3.3 or so. Rinse your mouth my friend, or drink it with food.

I guess spirits tend to have more neutral pHs, but I am not sure.

David Isaak said...

Great.

Now I have to go knock back shots of vodka instead.

microdermabrasion said...

Drinking water can be very useful. Like to share this useful article thanks. Awesome post as always!

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