The foods that eat away your teeth

CHOICE looks at the good, the bad and the downright ugly

It's well known that lollies and fizzy drinks cause tooth decay, but CHOICE has warned so called healthy snacks such as some muesli bars and fruit drinks are also rotting our children's teeth.

A survey has found a number of sugar-free energy and sports drinks can also damage teeth because of their high acid content.

Working with the Australian Dental Association's Victorian Branch, CHOICE compared the sugar content and acidity of 85 processed foods and drinks and categorised them as high, moderate or low risk.

"While it's no surprise the usual suspects such as fizzy drinks and lollies are in the high risk category, unfortunately a number of products that are promoted as healthy snacks for kids' lunchboxes are also high risk and can contribute to tooth decay and erosion," says CHOICE spokesman Brad Schmitt.

"These products aren't only full of sugar, they also have high acidity levels which can directly damage the enamel surface of teeth."

Examples include Kellog's Nutri-Grain bars, Uncle Tobys Apricot Muesli bars, Golden Circle Orange Juice and fizzy drinks such as Pepsi and market leader Coca-Cola (which pack more than 10 teaspoons of sugar in a 375mL can).

Making the high acid category are two caffeine-loaded sugar-free energy drinks Red Bull and V Energy and several sports drinks including Powerade (no sugar) and Staminade Lemon Lime Fusion. Such products may be free of sugar but all have a higher acid reserve than most other fizzy drinks.

"Tooth decay is on the rise and dentists rightly blame our increasing consumption of sugary snacks and drinks, including fruit juices and fruit drinks," says Schmitt.

"But there are many other foods and drinks that are potentially harmful for our teeth, so the advice is consider high-risk foods and drinks as a once-a-week treat and regularly brush and floss your teeth.

"And if you really want to avoid a visit to the dentist, try drinking milk or water instead of Coke or Pepsi."

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