Orange juice and other acidic fruit juices are more harmful for teeth than using whitening products, according to researchers at Eastman Institute for Oral Health.
Dr. YanFang Ren has found that the effects of 6 percent hydrogen peroxide, the common ingredient in professional and over-the-counter whitening products, are insignificant as compared to acidic fruit juices.
In fact, he and his colleagues have discovered that orange juice markedly decreases hardness and increases roughness of tooth enamel.
Using a new focus-variation vertical scanning microscope, the researchers could see extensive surface detail like never before.
"The acid is so strong that the tooth is literally washed away. The orange juice decreased enamel hardness by 84 percent," said Ren.
However, the researchers found no significant change in hardness or surface enamel from whitening.
Weakened and eroded enamel may speed up the wear of the tooth and increase the risk for tooth decay to quickly develop and spread.
"Most soft drinks, including sodas and fruit juices, are acidic in nature. Our studies demonstrated that the orange juice, as an example, can potentially cause significant erosion of teeth," said Ren.
He further said that dental researchers were increasingly studying tooth erosion, and investing significant resources into possible preventions and treatments.
"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," he said.
He advised consumers to be aware of the acidic nature of beverages, including sodas, fruit juices, sports and energy drinks. The longer the teeth are in contact with the acidic drinks, the more severe the erosion will be.
People who sip their drinks slowly over 20 minutes are more likely to have tooth erosion than those who finish a drink quickly.
He also emphasized on the need to keep good oral hygiene practices, by brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, and see a dentist for a fluoride treatment at least once a year if at risk.
The findings of the study have been published in Journal of Dentistry.