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Medicine and health science fair project:
How Certain Beverages Affect Tooth Decay

Science Fair Project Information
Title: How Certain Beverages Affect Tooth Decay
Subject: Medicine & Health
Grade level: Elementary School - Grades 4-6
Academic Level: Ordinary
Project Type: Experimental
Cost: Low
Awards: 2nd, Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair ($25)
Affiliation: Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair
Year: 2012
Materials: Apple juice, tap water, lemonade, coke, 4 raw hollow white eggshells, pH paper, general lab equipment and safety
Description: 1. Empty the eggs with a needle. 2. The eggshells are completely soaked in glasses filled with different beverages for 7 days and then compared. (The experiment is relevant since tooth enamel and eggshells contain calcium what gives them strength and prevents them both from decay).
Link: http://www.virtualsciencefair.org/2012/chancr
Short Background

Dental Erosion

Foods and drinks below pH 5.05.7 may intitiate dental erosion
GNU 1.2; CC 3.0

The most common cause of tooth erosion is by acidic foods and drinks. In general, foods and drinks with a pH below 5.05.7 have been known to trigger dental erosion effects. Numerous clinical and laboratory reports link erosion to excessive consumption of drinks. Those thought to pose a risk are soft drinks and fruit drinks, fruit juices such as orange juice (which contain citric acid) and carbonated drinks such as colas (in which the carbonic acid is not the cause of erosion, but citric and phosphoric acid). Additionally, wine has been shown to erode teeth, with the pH of wine as low as 3.03.8. Other possible sources of erosive acids are from exposure to chlorinated swimming pool water, and regurgitation of gastric acids.

Acidic drinks and foods lower the pH level of the mouth so consuming them causes the teeth to demineralise. Drinks low in pH levels that cause dental erosion include fruit juices, sports drinks, and carbonated drinks. Orange and apple juices are common culprits among fruit juices. Carbonated drinks such as colas, lemonades are also very acidic, as are fruit-flavoured drinks and dilutables. Frequency rather than total intake of acidic juices is seen as the greater factor in dental erosion; infants using feeding bottles containing fruit juices (especially when used as a comforter) are therefore at greater risk of acid erosion.

Saliva acts as a buffer, regulating the pH when acidic drinks are ingested. Drinks vary in their resistance to the buffering effect of saliva. Studies show that fruit juices are the most resistant to saliva's buffering effect, followed by, in order: fruit-based carbonated drinks and flavoured mineral waters, non-fruit-based carbonated drinks, sparkling mineral waters; Mineral water being the least resistant. Because of this, fruit juices in particular, may prolong the drop in pH levels.

Throthing or swishing acidic drinks around the mouth increases the risk of acid erosion.

For tooth decay prevention decrease abrasive forces. Use a soft bristled toothbrush and brush gently. No brushing immediately after consuming acidic food and drink as teeth will be softened. Leave at least half an hour of time space. Rinsing with water is better than brushing after consuming acidic foods and drinks. Drink through a straw. Drink milk or using other dairy products.

One particular advantage of using a straw when drinking is the reduction of tooth decay. Many soft drinks have acidic properties, and using a straw reduces the liquid contact with the teeth, particularly the anterior teeth, reducing tooth decay and the risk of cavities.

The de-gassing of carbonated water only slightly reduces its dissolution potential, which suggests that the addition of sugar to water, not the carbonation of water, is the main cause of tooth decay.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_erosion

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

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Last updated: June 2013
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