Dentists issue alcopops decay warning

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The Independent Online
A WARNING that alcopops can erode the teeth was issued by dentists yesterday following the case of a 17-year-old who suffered severe dental damage.

The teenager's teeth were so badly eaten away that his fillings were protruding, it was claimed.

Dentists blamed his condition on the high levels of acid in alcopops alcoholic fruit drinks, combined with the fact that he was prone to vomiting.

The boy said he went out most nights and drank beer and "several bottles of alcoholic lemonade drink". He also admitted he was often sick because of the amount he drank. This would have damaged his teeth further, since vomiting brings up acid from the stomach.

Dr Elizabeth O'Sullivan and Professor Martin Curzon, from the Leeds Dental Institute, describe the case in the British Dental Journal.

Although tooth erosion caused by alcopops and vomiting had not been reported before, they believed it could be a "significant problem" in parts of the population.

Dr O'Sullivan, a senior registrar in paediatric dentistry, said: "Alcopops are very popular - over pounds 265m worth were sold in 1996. People need to be alerted to the substantial damage that these acidic drinks can do to teeth.

"Anyone who drinks alcopops regularly should consider reducing the amounts they drink and the frequency with which they drink them. They should also see a dentist regularly."

The teenager's teeth were treated with veneers - thin layers of acrylic or porcelain material - and white fillings, and given advice. After six months the erosion had stopped.

Dental erosion is also caused by excessive consumption of citrus fruits, fruit juices and fizzy soft drinks.