There is a new enemy-of-the-tooth emerging in a generation of children who won’t drink water. With the popularity of flavored waters, fruit juices, and smoothies soaring, more and more kids are experiencing an abnormally high incidence of tooth decay, according to the Telegraph article, “Healthy smoothies not so innocent for teeth, says dentist,” by Stephen Adams. A national survey, completed in the UK, showed that nearly half of the five-year-old population is exhibiting signs of “tooth wear,” as a result of consuming acidic drinks which soften and dissolve protective enamel.
Previously, this condition was thought to be one belonging primarily to lower socio-economic groups, which is simply not true. Leading dentist, Kathryn Harley, who runs a specialist clinic in Great Britain, says that they are seeing a large number of affluent families with the same issues, due to belief that acidic and sugary fruit smoothies can be substituted for consuming the recommended five-a-day servings of fruits and vegetables. A spokesperson for the British Soft Drinks Association claims that by drinking fruit juice through a straw, the acidic liquid is directed past the teeth, thus sparing them of the adverse effects, although this is disputed by some experts. It is also believed that by consuming fruit juice and smoothies at mealtime, the impact on dental health can also be lessened. Harley thinks that most people understand that sweets cause tooth decay, but aren’t acknowledging that acidic drinks can have the same effect, which she believes can be “catastrophic.” The debate will continue, no doubt, as these specialty drinks don’t seem to be losing popularity. I see this as just one more reason to be sure to visit your dentist often, and to continue to brush and floss regularly.