Research Reveals Triple Threat

9317042906_362b29378a_bConventional wisdom regarding oral health and soft drinks has lead us to believe that as long as we brush after indulging in a sugary, syrupy drink, our teeth will be just fine.

Dr. Ries recently read about researchers at the University of Adelaide have laid bare the ugly connection between tooth decay and soft drinks: according to this new study, life-long damage, caused by the acidity in soft drinks, takes place within the first 30 seconds of imbibing. So much for sipping!

A trifecta for tooth decay

The University’s recent study finds that the rapid onset of dental damage caused by soft drinks forms a “triple threat” to young people’s oral health when combined with two other relative newcomers to the oral health scene: bruxism  (teeth grinding) and gastric reflux. For a variety of reasons (of which increasing BMI among younger people is a significant factor), teenagers and young people are experiencing higher rates of grinding and gastric reflux. Often these problems can take place without any immediate signs… making it even more insidious.

How does this happen?

Together, the acid in our stomach— which should be a stranger to the upper respiratory tract, particularly the mouth– and the acid in soft drinks eat away at enamel. At the same time, the instability and stress that bruxism causes on roots and supporting stresses causes gum recession and an increased risk of periodontitis, and together with the acids, cavities and other oral maladies.

Acid: a pH of less than 7

Additionally, researchers note that our oral pH is no accident. The bacterial “flora” living commensally in our mouth create that pH, and it is beneficial– it supports an environment in which benign bacteria flourish and harmful bacteria are disadvantaged (and can even be food for our helpful bacteria!) When we change our oral pH, through acid reflux, soft drinks, or both, this can have long-term consequences.

It’s hard to say goodbye.

But soft drinks have really got to go. Just avoiding these syrupy mouth marinades alone can make a big difference in oral health.

Bruxism, on the other hand, is a little harder to “avoid” without help. If you suspect you may be engaging in some nocturnal grinding, talk to Dr. Ries or another member of the team at your next check-up at our Gresham Dental office!

Photo Credit: AIDSVaccine via Compfight cc

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