Soft drinks, fruit juice and sports drinks are part of a “triple threat” of permanent damage to young people’s teeth together with night-time grinding and reflux.
"Often, children and adolescents grind their teeth at night, and they can have undiagnosed regurgitation or reflux, which brings with it acidity from the stomach. Combined with drinks high in acidity, this creates a triple threat to young people's teeth which can cause long-term damage," said Dr Sarbin Ranjitkar, corresponding author of the study.
In an in vitro study, dental researchers at the University of Adelaide assessed the effects a short exposure to acids could have on enamel health. The researchers tested it over a two-minute period at pH 1.5 and 3.0 and under conditions simulating gastric regurgitation.
The changes were assessed by measuring the 3D average surface roughness values using 3D microscopy. The results showed that erosion is detectable within 30 seconds of acid exposure at both pH 1.5 and 3.0.
Cleaning teeth won’t help
"Our research has shown that permanent damage to the tooth enamel will occur within the first 30 seconds of high acidity coming into contact with the teeth. This is an important finding and it suggests that such drinks are best avoided,” said Ranjitkar.
"If high acidity drinks are consumed, it is not simply a matter of having a child clean their teeth an hour or 30 minutes later and hoping they'll be okay – the damage is already done," he added.
The study suggested that dental erosion caused by acids can be discovered in its initial stages, which opened up the possibility of early diagnosis and management.
"Dental erosion is an issue of growing concern in developed countries, and it is often only detected clinically after extensive tooth wear has occurred," said Ranjitkar.
"Such erosion can lead to a lifetime of compromised dental health that may require complex and extensive rehabilitation – but it is also preventable with minimal intervention," he added.
Journal of Dentistry
Published online ahead of print DOI: 10.1016/j.jdent.2014.06.011
Three-dimensional profilometric assessment of early enamel erosion simulating gastric regurgitation
Authors: C. Mann, S. Ranjitkar et al.