Your dental crowns and fillings may be at risk for damage from an unexpected culprit: your favourite beverage. Many people enjoy a favourite drink on a regular basis: whether it's their morning orange juice, the treat of a diet soda, or coffee and energy drinks to keep them perky and alert. Unfortunately, all of these drinks have a common trait: they’re acidic.
You may already know that acid poses a big threat to your natural tooth enamel. It’s actually the acid that bacteria excrete that causes cavities, not just the bacteria or sugar on their own. Even sugar-free varieties of drinks, such as black coffee and diet soft drinks, are quite acidic. While we have long known the risk these drinks pose to natural teeth, a recent study has confirmed that they are also damaging to the restorative materials that dental crowns and fillings are made of.
People may think that because restorative materials are engineered to be as strong and resilient as possible, they’re not as vulnerable to damage as natural teeth, but this isn’t true at all! The composites and resins used to create tooth-coloured (white) fillings and crowns can be eroded and softened by acidic beverages.
A recent study looked at how various tooth composites and resins responded to repeated and prolonged exposure to a variety of common acidic beverages: orange juice, coffee, cola and energy drink (water was the control beverage). All four acidic beverages softened the fake tooth material in the end, but the worst culprits were cola and energy drinks, which also happen to be the most acidic.
The study also showed that beverages, especially coffee, can also change the colour of the restorative material, i.e. turn your fillings or dental crowns yellow or brown. Unlike natural teeth, tooth-coloured resins and composites can’t be whitened using the same methods, so stained crowns could mean uneven colour in your smile.
The ultimate conclusion of this study should be a fairly familiar and obvious bit of advice: everyone should limit the highly acidic drinks they consume, and those with crowns and fillings are no exception. A balanced and healthy diet is just as important to your oral health as your overall health!
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