You may remember your teenage years as a time of increased independence. Teens largely have the ability to choose what they eat and when. Partly as a result of societal norms and partly due to just being busy, many teens reach for easy foods such as burgers, fries, and soda. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, everyday dietary habits of the average teenager presents a risk of tooth erosion.
The most prominent culprits of tooth erosion among teens are soft drinks and sports drinks. For the teen who consumes energy drinks, the risk of enamel breakdown is even higher. If you look at the ingredients list on any can of soda, you will see the word “acid” listed at least once. The concern is not whether or not an acidic ingredient is natural but that any acidic ingredient will cause enamel to erode, or deteriorate. We need durable enamel if we want to avoid cavities and infection deep inside teeth! The high instance of erosion is concerning because this condition can cause irreparable damage to teeth.
And There’s More
As if erosion were not a significant concern all on its own, further research should cause us to be even more mindful of teens’ oral health. In one study discussed by the Academy of General Dentistry, researchers confirmed a direct link between soda consumption and increased instances of bone fractures among teenage girls. Why would this be, and what does it have to do with teeth?
The years between age 9 and 18 are significant for bone development. It is over this time-frame that bone growth is most substantial. Therefore, it is during these years of life when teens are in great need of calcium. Calcium is the foundation of healthy bones as well as strong teeth. The average teen needs 1300 mg of calcium a day. Here’s where things can get tricky.
Calcium stores are vital to healthy teeth and bones. When a teen consumes phosphoric acid, a common ingredient in soft drinks and sports drinks, their body’s ability to absorb calcium decreases. Hence the increased risk of bone fractures.
Does this information mean that teens cannot drink soft drinks? Not necessarily, but limiting intake certainly could help. Additionally, teens benefit from staying up to date with dental exams and cleanings that can spot and treat erosion before it causes substantial damage.