Society has generally been aware for some time now that sugary beverages are a prime cause of health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart complications. In addition, dentists have long cautioned patients about the danger sugar poses to teeth, in the form of tooth decay. A new study published earlier this year lends even more weight to those warnings, and indicates that a large portion of adults suffering from dental erosion are people who regularly consume not only soft drinks, but sugary fruit juices as well.
While most people in the West are familiar with cavities and similar dental problems, a surprising number are less aware of the damage that can occur when the protective enamel that coats their teeth is eroded. That enamel is designed to protect the sensitive dentin part of each tooth. When it is worn away through continuing exposure to acids of the sort common in soda and juice, that dentin ends up being exposed. Without that protection, teeth become sensitive to extreme temperature, and are even more vulnerable to tooth decay.
Ordinarily, saliva cancels out the worst effects of these acids and works to restore the mouth’s natural balance. The problem is that it can only do so much restoration work and – like every other bodily system – can become overwhelmed and overworked. People who frequently consume sugary drinks that contain enamel-threatening acids unwittingly force that saliva to deal with more than it can handle. Over time, the acid slowly wears away the enamel, as the saliva is unable to keep pace with the acid’s assault.
So, how bad is the problem? Well, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that, according to a recent Gallup poll, more than 60% of Americans surveyed say that they actively avoid both regular and diet soda, and another 50% say that they avoid sugar entirely. Only 22% of those surveyed admit to including sodas in their diet. At the same time, however, Harvard has studied the issue and discovered some disturbing facts:
- Each day, roughly half of the population of the United States consumes sugary beverages.
- 25% of those people drink quantities amounting to 200 calories or more.
- 5% consume more than 550 calories from sugary beverages on a daily basis.
- Where teen diets are concerned, more calories come from sugary drinks than from pizza.
- There has been a marked increase in children’s consumption of sugary beverages in the last two decades alone.
That helps to explain why the latest study found that almost eight out of every ten participants exhibited some degree of dental erosion, and why the most severe amounts of erosion were found in those adults who consume soda and juice on a daily basis. While the number of people who regularly consume soft drinks has declined in the last fifteen years, many of those people have replaced their soda consumption with sugary juice products that contain similar levels of sugar and acid.
There are better options, of course. The most obvious solution is to rely primarily on water and milk instead of the riskier sugar drinks. Both of those beverages are not only easier on your teeth, but healthier for your bodies as well. Another solution involves reducing the amount of juice consumed each day to no more than one small glass – and to drink only 100% fruit juice rather than the sugar-laden artificial concoctions. Your teeth will thank you!
At the same time, remember that regular dental care is an important part of maintaining healthy teeth for life. At Ebenezer Dental, we can help you develop the strategies you need to protect your teeth from these dangers, and ensure that you properly care for your winning smile! If you want the help of the best dentist in midtown Manhattan, give us a call today!