Acidic drinks rot your teeth and your fillings

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  • Published: Nov 13, 2013
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Atomic / Infrared Spectroscopy / Proteomics / Raman / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / Chemometrics & Informatics / NMR Knowledge Base / X-ray Spectrometry / MRI Spectroscopy / Base Peak

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It is one of those "facts" that everyone seems to know - that drinking acidic drinks like Coca-Cola will rot your teeth. If you browse the Internet, you can find much conflicting evidence from individuals who left baby teeth in a glass of cola with varying results. However, the British Dental Association has likened the tooth damage caused by regular drinking of fizzy, sugary drinks to that experienced by regular crack cocaine or methamphetamine users.

Now, researchers in Turkey have tried to clarify the picture by seeing how teeth and fillings are affected by certain foods and drinks. Writing in Microscopy Research and Technique, they explain how they exposed extracted baby teeth and adult teeth, as well as various tooth filling materials, to drinks that covered a range of acidity values. Coca-Cola (pH 2.74), orange juice (3.75), buttermilk (4.05), strawberry yoghurt (4.85) and a commercial isotonic sodium chloride drink (7.20) were tested.

The teeth and fillers were exposed to the drinks for 10 seconds before being rinsed with water to simulate the action of saliva. This cycle was repeated 40 times a day over several months and the effects were studied by a combination of scanning electron microscopy and FTIR spectroscopy.

All of the teeth and materials were affected to some degree. Permanent teeth were modified less than baby teeth, with changes to the structure of the enamel. However, the worst affected materials were the fillers, with Coca-cola and orange juice, the most acidic drinks, causing the greatest damage. The lifetimes of the fillers were reduced, probably due to greater absorption of water over the test period.

So, it would appear to be best to avoid sugary, acidic drinks completely, since they can affect both teeth and fillings, weakening the structure and ultimately leading to more pricely restorative work.

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