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Last Updated: Friday, 12 March, 2004, 00:31 GMT
Bad teeth blamed on fizzy drinks
Erosion can make teeth more sensitive
Fizzy drinks are the main cause of increasing tooth erosion among teenagers, research suggests.

A study in the British Dental Journal found a strong link between fizzy drink consumption and tooth erosion.

The risk of tooth erosion was 59% higher in 12-year-olds, and 220% higher in 14-year-olds who drank fizzy drinks.

Drinking at least four glasses a day was associated with an increased risk of 252% in 12-year-olds and a massive 513% increased risk in 14-year-olds.

Parents need to understand that while high levels of sugar cause decay, it is the acidity of certain products that causes erosion.
Professor Liz Kay
The survey of more than 1,000 children found that two-thirds of 12-year-olds reported drinking fizzy drinks. Among 14-year-olds this figure had risen to over 92%.

For both age groups more than 40% of those surveyed reported having three or more glasses of fizzy drinks per day.

Researcher Dr Peter Rock, of Birmingham University, said the study suggested fizzy drinks were "by far the biggest factor in causing dental erosion among teenagers".

He said drinking fizzy drinks only once a day may significantly increase a child's chances of suffering dental erosion, while frequent consumption increased those risks further.

Parental confusion

Professor Liz Kay, scientific advisor to the British Dental Association, welcomed the research.

She said: "Erosion is a growing problem among Britain's teenagers, yet many parents don't understand the difference between decay and erosion.

"Parents need to understand that while high levels of sugar cause decay, it is the acidity of certain products that causes erosion.

"While drinking 'diet' versions of fizzy drinks reduces sugar consumption, these products are very acidic and can still cause erosion."

Erosion, caused by acidic substances, is a wearing away of the enamel coating of teeth.

In the most serious cases the enamel is worn away to such an extent that the dentine (the substance that comprises the bulk of the tooth) or even the pulp (the root) of the tooth are exposed.

Decay, caused when the sugar in food and drink reacts with bacteria in plaque, attacks the areas between or on top of teeth.

A spokesman for British Soft Drinks Association, said: "The soft drinks industry is aware of concerns raised about the potential role of soft drinks in causations of dental erosion.

"There are many causes of dental erosion, some dietary and others not, and the relative role of each will vary from case to case."

The spokesman stressed that the paper did not prove that soft drink consumption caused tooth erosion - it just highlighted a statistical association.

"The soft drinks industry recommends that consumers should brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and avoid drinking soft drinks after they have cleaned their teeth at night.

"The industry also supports any advice not to put soft drinks or fruit juices in baby bottles."

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