Soft drinks can cause obesity, tooth wear: Study

Pouring a refreshing sugary soft drink from a can into a glass (DH Photo)

The consumption of sugar-sweetened acidic drinks -- such as soft drinks -- is the common factor connecting obesity and tooth wear among adults, according to a study which suggests that dentists should be concerned about the calories their patients get from carbonated beverages.

The researchers, including those from King's College London, found that being overweight, or obese, was strongly associated with having worn out teeth.

The findings of the study, published in the journal Clinical Oral Investigation, suggests that the increased consumption of sugary soft drinks by obese patients may be the leading cause of the erosion of the tooth enamel, and dentine -- the hard bony structure forming the bulk of a tooth.

The researchers analysed a sample of survey participants of 3,541 patients in the United States based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2004.

For the study, the researchers took into account patient BMI, their intake of sugar-sweetened acidic drinks, and their levels of tooth wear.

"It is the acidic nature of some drinks such as carbonated drinks and acidic fruit juices that leads to tooth wear," said lead author Saoirse O'Toole from King's College London.

According to the researchers, tooth wear ranked as the third most important dental condition -- after cavities and gum disease -- and its leading cause is the consumption of acidic foods and drinks.

"This is an important message for obese patients who are consuming calories through acidic sugar-sweetened drinks. These drinks may be doing damage to their body and their teeth," O'Toole said.

The researchers said that changing consumption habits can help patients prevent tooth wear, or at least stop it before it gets worse.

"There is also an important message for dentists. We should be asking our patients who are obese and have tooth wear what calories they are drinking as this may be having an effect on their full bodies - not just their teeth," O'Toole said.

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