A recent study published in the journal Clinical Oral Investigations by King's College London has identified sugar-sweetened, acidic drinks, including soft drinks, as a common factor between obesity in adults and tooth wear.
Tooth wear is defined as the premature wearing of teeth due to the softening of the dental enamel, combined with wear and tear from natural use, such as biting and chewing.
Tooth wear and tear develops over time, so it may not be immediately noticeable to sufferers.
When teeth become worn, their shape and appearance can also change.
Many people develop sensitive teeth and live with the painful - and often life-changing - effects of that sensitivity when eating, drinking or when temperatures change.
The research team found that individuals who are overweight or obese frequently have tooth wear. They also found that drinking copious amounts of sugary soft drinks could be the cause of tooth enamel erosion and damage to dentin in obese patients.
Researchers reviewed survey responses from 3,541 U.S. patients who took the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2003-2004.
The researchers also considered patient BMI and what level of tooth wear patients had during their analysis.
The team also noted the intake of sugar-sweetened, acidic drinks during two non-consecutive 24-hour recall interviews when patients were asked to recount their diets from two days.
'Soft drinks and fruit juices are very high in sugar and acid,' said Dr. Richard Armstrong of Legends Dental in Waco, Texas.
Foods and drinks high in sugar and acid can put the teeth at risk of damage because they soften tooth enamel.
'When the tooth enamel becomes soft, it's easier for the bacteria that cause tooth decay to attack and cause cavities. This is when teeth are also susceptible to wear and tear,' Armstrong said.
The findings are important; tooth wear is ranked as the third most important dental condition worldwide after cavities and gum disease.
Sugary sodas aren't the only cause of tooth wear for obese patients; acid reflux conditions such as a GERD also contribute to tooth wear.
'Acid from the stomach can also leave the enamel soft, which increases the chance of wear and risk of tooth decay,' Armstrong said.
The findings are critical; researchers are hoping they can convey an important message to individuals who are obese about their diets. They also hope that their study is beneficial for dentists.
'It is OK for dentists to talk to patients about their diets and how what they eat can negatively impact oral and overall health,' Armstrong said.
Earlier research from King's determined that tooth wear impacts 30 percent of European adults.
Source: King's College London. 'Soft drinks found to be the crucial link between obesity and tooth wear.' ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2019.