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News / November 19, 2008

Sour sweets

by Guy Hiscott

The recent craze for sour sweets could be creating future health problems for children’s teeth, dentists in America warn.

And the popular sweets can, in many cases, contain acid levels so high that it approaches the ph level of battery acid,

This is according to the California Dental Hygienists’ Association (CDHA) that issued a warning recently to parents about the dangers of ‘sour’ sweets.

Sour sweets come in dozens of varieties, including hard, soft, chewy, gummy, gels, liquid sprays, crystals, foam sprays, powders and chewing gums.

Most people think this type of confectionery is safer because it has less sugar, but they don’t know that the acid content is toward the extreme end of the acidic spectrum

With repeated exposure and frequency, ‘sour’ sweets can also lead to a host of oral health problems, including increased cavities, tooth sensitivity, staining, soft-tissue sensitivities and loss of shine.

The CDHA offered the following tips:
• Avoid, limit or seriously reconsider choosing or eating sweets labelled ‘sour’ or ‘tart’
• Look for the following acids on the back label of ingredients and avoid them: citric, lactic, malic, tartaric, fumaric, adipic, ascorbic
• Don’t be fooled by ‘concentrated fruit juice extracts’ – is a code phrase for ingredients that can be highly acidic
• If you choose to consume sour sweets, rinse your mouth with water immediately afterwards to reduce the damaging effects from the acids
• Don’t brush your teeth directly after eating sour sweets as the toothbrush and toothpaste are abrasive; this will scratch and will remove more of the already softened enamel

Most consumers are so focused on eliminating sugar that they have not paid attention to the newer and more serious ingredients containing multiple acids that make the ‘sour’ sweets so tart and appealing, but also make teeth more susceptible to oral diseases.

In Minnesota, its dental association is launching a public awareness campaign called ‘The Power of Sour on Your Teeth’.

The campaign includes educational materials for teachers and school nurses, and posters and brochures that are being made available to every dental association in the US.