The results, from a survey carried out by the British Dental Health Foundation for National Smile Month, show that many members of the public are including large intakes of fizzy drinks and acidic foods in their everyday diet.
It was found that one in seven people have a fizzy drink most days, and more than one in four of those aged 18 – 30 drink one regularly. Males were found to be more likely than females to open a can of pop, whereas those surveyed who were over the age of 60 were the least likely to indulge in sweet refreshments.
Dental experts say long–term damage can be caused to teeth when sugary or acidic foods are eaten frequently.
Fizzy drinks have high acidity levels which can damage teeth. The acid erodes the enamel that acts as a protective layer on a tooth, leaving teeth both sensitive and unsightly. Some fizzy drinks also have a high sugar content which can lead to problems such as tooth decay. The sugar can react with the bacteria in the plaque on teeth, producing harmful acids. This can eventually cause a hole or ‘cavity’ in a tooth.
Chief Executive of the Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter said: “Every time you eat or drink something sugary or acidic your teeth are under attack for a whole hour. By limiting the frequency of fizzy drinks, people can limit the amount of time their teeth are put at risk.
“And it isn’t just about oral health – connections have been made between drinking sugary beverages and conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Now new research is suggesting that by cutting down on fizzy drinks people can lower their blood pressure, which will reduce risks of suffering from blood–pressure related diseases. Two less fizzy drinks per day can decrease potential risks of dying from strokes by eight percent and coronary heart disease by five percent. Swapping a fizzy drink for water or milk is a small price to pay for good health.”
The National Dental survey found that people are most likely to eat and drink acidic products, such as fruit juices, at lunch time, with more than one in three people eating and drinking those products most days at that time.
Women were found to be more likely to consume acidic foods and drinks in their lunch than men, and almost half of those surveyed ate acidic foods at least once a day. To reduce any possible damage to the teeth from acidic foods, the Foundation recommends chewing sugar–free gum or finishing a meal with cheese or milk to help neutralise the acid in the mouth.
The survey interviewed more than 1,000 people from around the UK and was conducted in line with National Smile Month.
The Foundation suggests taking preventive measures to protect the teeth.
Dr Carter added: “Brushing twice a day for a full two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste is one of the best ways to maintain a good level of oral hygiene. Flossing, chewing sugar free gum, using mouth wash are all other excellent ways to take care of your teeth.”
The National Dental Helpline (0845 063 1188) is a confidential advice line available to answer any oral queries members of the public may have, including questions about diets and oral care. The helpline is staffed by fully trained dental nurses and oral health educators, and is available between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.
For further information please contact the Foundation’s Press Office on [email protected] or 01788 539799.
National Smile Month (May 16th – June 16th) is sponsored by Wrigley’s Orbit Complete, Listerine and Oral B.
The study researching links between fizzy drinks and blood–pressure related conditions was published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association and was reviewed online by the Telegraph.
The British Dental Health Foundation is the UK’s leading oral health charity, with a 30–year 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.
The Dental Helpline, which offers free impartial advice to consumers, can be contacted on 0845 063 1188 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Alternatively, they can be contacted by email on [email protected]
A series of free ‘Tell Me About…’ leaflets covering topics such as caring for my teeth, finding a dentist and diet are also available.
The Foundation’s website can be found at www.dentalhealth.org