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News / July 1, 2009

Fruit juices worse for teeth than whitening, says study

by Guy Hiscott

Scientists have discovered that fruit juices are far worse for teeth than tooth whitening.

With the ever-increasing interest in cosmetic dentistry, the US researchers set out to learn if there are negative effects on the tooth from using whitening products.

Lead researcher YanFang Ren, DDS, PhD, and his team from the Eastman Institute for Oral Health, University of Rochester Medical Center, US, determined that the effects of 6% hydrogen peroxide are insignificant compared to acidic fruit juices.


Orange juice markedly decreased hardness and increased roughness of tooth enamel.


The team was – for the first time – able to see extensive surface detail thanks to a new focus-variation vertical scanning microscope.


Dr Ren said: ‘The acid is so strong that the tooth is literally washed away. The orange juice decreased enamel hardness by 84%.’


There are studies that show whitening can affect the hardness of dental enamel, but until now, nobody had compared the two.


Dr Ren added: ‘This study allowed us to understand the effect of whitening on enamel relative to the effect of a daily dietary activity, such as drinking juices.


‘It’s potentially a very serious problem for people who drink sodas and fruit juices daily. We do not yet have an effective tool to avert the erosive effects, although there are early indications that higher levels of fluoride may help slow down the erosion.’

The British Dental Health Foundation has now warned the public to cut down on how often they consume acidic fruit drinks, which can eventually lead to tooth loss and costly treatment.


Foundation chief executive Dr Nigel Carter said: ‘We often hear of safety concerns over whitening treatment while fruit juices are marketed as healthy drinks. Yet this research shows the extent of damage caused by orange juice while professional or home whitening after consultation with a dentist is relatively low-risk.


‘Your mouth needs time to recover after exposure to acids or sugars so cut down on the frequency you have these snacks or drinks. Water and milk drinks are safe alternatives.’