Fruit teas: not such a healthy option for our teeth 26-02-2018

These days, our supermarket aisles are packed with a wide array of teas to choose from. From black to white tea, caffeinated to de-caffeinated, we may feel overwhelmed when it comes to making our selection. And whilst they have always been around, the market for fruit teas seems to be booming more than ever. With brightly coloured packaging and an ever-expanding offering of flavour combinations, these products can feel very attractive. However, research has found that they may not be quite such a good choice, especially when it comes to our teeth.

The BBC have recently published the results of a research project carried out at King’s College London, which found that fruit teas can have an erosive effect on our teeth. In fact, their study participants, those who drank either hot fruit teas, or water with a slice of lemon, twice a day between their meals, were found to be 11 times more likely to be suffering from tooth erosion. This erosion was likely to be on a moderate to severe basis. Acidic drinks, such as fruit teas, can wear away, or damage, the enamel on our teeth. This risk is further increased if the drinks are consumed in between, rather than with, meals, and if the drinks are held in the mouth for too long prior to swallowing.

But before you ditch the fruit teas and look for an alternative, there are other acidic drinks you need to watch out for too. Drinks such as flavoured waters, fruit squashes, alcohol and cordials all have a high acidity level, and can cause damage to our teeth. Safer options include: water (either still or sparkling), milk and standard tea or coffee.

Our teeth can become eroded when they are exposed to acids which cause a series of chemical processes that wear away their hard, outer layer. Sugar is not the problem here: sugar and bacteria instead cause tooth decay, a different problem. Rather acidic food or drinks are a leading cause of tooth erosion.

If you’re still keen to consume the odd fruit tea or acidic drink here and there, here are a few suggestions that can help you to manage the potential erosive impact:

  • Be mindful about balancing your diet. If you know you’ll be having an alcoholic drink in the evening, skip that mid-afternoon fruit tea.
  • Consume the acidic drink with your meal, rather than in between meals.
  • Swallow your drink quickly, rather than sipping at it or holding it in your mouth.
  • Consider using a straw to reduce the contact time it has with your teeth.
  • Balance things out: after an acidic drink, have some water, or consume a food such as cheese, which will balance out the acidity.

So, when you are next perusing the supermarket aisles for the latest addition to your hot drink collection, be mindful about your choices. It’s important to be aware of what you are consuming, it’s content, and therefore how it might affect your oral health.

For more information, visit the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43141587