A new study investigates the link between obesity-related diet choices and tooth wear.
Tooth wear is the loss of enamel over time that is not related to mouth trauma or tooth decay and results in tooth sensitivity, discoloration, and indentations on the teeth. It is often caused by erosion from consuming an overabundance of acidic foods and carbonated drinks, or frequent vomiting. It can also be caused by grinding teeth, incorrect tooth brushing techniques, or using the teeth to open bottles.
Carbonated drinks are very acidic due to their carbonic acid content, which is the ingredient that dissociates into carbon dioxide to produce the bubbles. Carbonated drinks are also high in sugar and calories, and their consumption can potentially lead to unwanted weight gain and obesity. Since there is a relationship between carbonated drinks and obesity, as well as a potential link between carbonated drinks and tooth wear, new research is looking into the relationship between tooth wear and obesity. An American study published in Clinical Oral Investigations examined this link between obesity and tooth wear.
Over thirty-five hundred participants aged 18 and above with complete tooth wear participated in the study. Tooth wear severity was classified as either sound (solely enamel damage), mild (exposing dentine, the hard material under the enamel), moderate, or severe tooth wear (exposing secondary dentine or complete loss of enamel). Their BMI was also determined and classified as either normal (BMI under 25), overweight (BMI between 25 and 30), or obese (BMI above 30).
After the physical examination, participants recalled and said everything they ate over the past 24 hours. Additionally, researchers called participants between three and ten days after the first dietary recall and participants disclosed their 24-hour food intake for that day. This data was used to measure the average intake of sugar-sweetened acidic drinks such as soda, sugar-sweetened non-acidic drinks such as sweetened coffee, non-sweetened acidic drinks such as carbonated water, and non-sweetened, non-acidic drinks such as unsweetened coffee.
The study found that obesity was associated with increased severity of tooth wear in those with tooth wear. Overweight individuals had 1.72 times more affected enamel surfaces, and obese individuals had 1.61 times more affected enamel surface. However, obesity was not related to an increased probability of having tooth wear. Additionally, one additional sweetened acidic drink daily was associated with 1.40 times more surfaces damaged, and one additional non-sweetened, non-acidic drink daily was associated with a 17% lower severity of tooth wear.
The study findings suggest that there may potentially be a link between obesity and tooth wear, and that the consumption of soft drinks may be a shared factor between obesity and tooth wear. More research is needed to strengthen this correlation.
Written by Avery Bisbee
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Kamal, Y., O’Toole, S., & Bernabe, E. (2019). Obesity and tooth wear among American Adults: the role of sugar sweetened drinks. Clinical Oral Investigations. doi: 10.1007/s00784-019-03079-5
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