The study indicated that gamers who are prolonged to a substantial amount of screen time are more than twice as likely to develop tooth decay and caries as those with more active lifestyles.
It was shown that while playing computer games, teenagers are far more likely to consume foods and snacks which have especially high levels of sugar.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter was pleased to see this study add to the growing research into the habits of decay and caries sufferers and he highlights the importance of a stable diet for good oral health.
Dr Carter said: “This study helps our understanding of the dietary habits and subsequent decay risk of gamers when the effects have previously been unknown.
“Every time you eat or drink anything sugary, your teeth are under acid attack for up to one hour. This is because the sugar will react with the bacteria in plaque (the sticky coating on your teeth) and produce the harmful acids. So it is important to keep sugary foods only to mealtimes, limiting the amount of time your mouth is at risk.
“Acidic foods and drinks can be just as harmful to your teeth. The acid erodes the enamel, exposing the dentine underneath. This can make the teeth sensitive and unsightly.”
The National Dental Helpline (0845 063 1188) receives thousands of calls every year from the public looking for advice on diet in relation to general oral health, alongside enquiries to the www.dentalhealth.org website.
The study, which examined teenagers between 12 and 16, suggested that dietary habits leading to decay are associated with screen activities and that computer games, if associated with increased snacking are associated with decay experience.
It was found that those children who had parental rules regarding screen time and diet were less likely to eat or drink while watching television/video games than subjects without parental rules.
In addition, those participants without structured eating patterns were over 30% more likely to have caries than subjects with structured patterns.
Dr Carter added: “It is better for your teeth and general health if you eat three meals a day instead of having seven to ten snack attacks. If you do need to snack between meals, choose foods that do not contain sugar.
“The main point to remember is that it is not the amount of sugar you eat or drink, but how often you do it. Sweet foods are allowed, but it is important to keep them to mealtimes.
The research, entitled ‘Video gaming teenagers: An Examination of Diet and Caries’ was carried out by Jordon Poss at the University of Iowa and was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Dental Research in Washington.
Video gaming has become increasingly popular among adolescents over the last decade. Numerous studies over the past few years have shown that while 50% of teenagers have a video console in their bedroom, 97% of all teens play video games regularly.
For further information please contact the Foundation’s Press Office on 01788 539792 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of the public can contact the Dental Helpline for free and impartial expert advice on 0845 063 1188, Monday to Friday, or by emailing email@example.com.
The Foundation’s website can be found at www.dentalhealth.org.
A series of free ‘Tell Me About…’ leaflets, covering topics such as tooth care, gum disease, diet and children’s teeth, amongst others which are available via the online shop.
The British Dental Health Foundation is the UK’s leading oral health charity, with a 39year track record of providing public information and influencing government policy. It maintains a free consumer advice service, an impartial and objective product accreditation scheme, publishes and distributes a wide range of literature for the profession and consumers, and runs National Smile Month each May, to promote greater awareness of the benefits of better oral health.
An abstract to ‘Video gaming teenagers: An Examination of Diet and Caries’ can be found at http://iadr.confex.com/iadr/2010dc/webprogram/Paper128821.html