ACIDIC food and drink is rotting the nation’s teeth — with salt and vinegar crisps a surprise offender, a new study claims.
Diet soft drinks, juices and raw fruit can be as damaging to gnashers as sugary pop, researchers warn.
The alert comes as record numbers of children have rotten teeth pulled out — with nearly 43,000 hospital extractions last year.
Dental experts from King’s College London say highly acidic food and drinks consumed outside mealtimes is fuelling the problem.
A study of 600 adults — half with teeth trouble — found salt and vinegar crisps increased the chances of harmful erosion by a third.
Those who drank two fruit teas a day — or just hot water with lemon — were a staggering 11 times likelier to wear away teeth, it claimed.
Even acidic raw fruit can be harmful — with a twice-daily orange upping the risk by 37 times. Taking more than ten minutes to eat one was 12 times more harmful to teeth.
Acid was found to linger in the mouth up to four times longer after a fruit smoothie compared to a can of diet cola. The study said erosion rates were halved when acidic drinks were consumed with breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Researchers said Brits should instead snack on nuts or raw veg.
Lead researcher Dr Saoirse O’Toole said: “What surprised us was the longer the contact, the worse the effect. Having snacks and drinks with acid throughout the day does not give teeth time to recover.
“Fruit, salt and vinegar crisps, fizzy pop and smoothies, these are causing real damage.
“They are really bad for you teeth. So if you want to enjoy them, have them with meals.”
However, fish and chips covered in vinegar was a dangerous dinner for teeth — increasing erosion risk by ten times, the report said.
Around one in three adults and one in two children are estimated to suffer from tooth erosion.
The British Dental Association’s scientific adviser Prof Damien Walmsley said: “Dental erosion is recognised as a major cause of tooth damage in people of all ages, though it’s especially worrying to see a relatively high prevalence of this in children and adolescents.”
He said fizzy drinks are blamed but so-called healthier options can also be harmful. He added: “Many of these are highly acidic and can wear away tooth enamel.”
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