If you are someone who spends a lot of your day looking at a screen, you’re probably also consuming a lot of sugar and caffeine. That’s according to a new study based on the consumption patterns of adolescents, but likely applicable to adults as well.
Sugar consumption and caffeine can both contribute to serious tooth damage that requires reconstructive dentistry.
The More Screen Time, the More Sugar and Caffeine
This new study comes from an analysis of data from the 2013-2016 Monitoring the Future study. This is a cross-sectional representative study that looked at more than 32,000 US teens from over 250 schools in all 50 states. The study looked at the amount of time they spent watching screens, then compared that to their intake of sugar and caffeine in sodas and energy drinks.
They found that each additional hour spent watching TV or using their smartphone was associated with higher sugar and caffeine intakes. For TV, each additional hour of watching was linked to a 7 g higher intake of sugar, as well as a 32% higher risk of exceeding the daily recommended allowance for sugar. It was also associated with a 28% higher risk of exceeding caffeine recommendations. For smartphone use, either talking on the phone or using social media, each additional hour per day was associated with a 14% higher risk of exceeding recommended sugar intake and an 18% higher risk of exceeding caffeine intake.
Surprisingly, video games were not associated with higher sugar intake, and only weakly linked to caffeine intake. Not surprisingly, using the computer for school was associated with a lower risk of exceeding the recommended intakes of sugar or caffeine.
What about Adults?
Some of the results from this study can readily be extrapolated to adults. It is generally true that spending more time watching TV is linked to more snacking and consumption of sugary beverages.
However, there are some problems. First, this study didn’t look at coffee or tea consumption. Coffee and tea represent much larger proportions of the sugar and caffeine consumed by adults than for teens.
Adults are also more likely to spend much of their day in front of not a TV screen, but a computer screen, since so many jobs today require computer work. Is working at a computer associated with lower sugar and caffeine intake, the way school work is? Not likely. In fact, many people who sit in front of a computer consume a lot of caffeinated and sweetened beverages, especially coffee.
The Danger to Your Teeth
Sugar and caffeine both represent serious dangers to your teeth, and it’s important to make sure that you aren’t consuming too much of either. Sugar fuels oral bacteria, which excrete acid that attacks your tooth enamel, causing cavities. High sugar consumption can also increase the risk of gum disease.
Caffeine is also a danger to your teeth. High levels of caffeine consumption has been linked to bruxism, clenching and grinding your teeth. This can cause widespread wear on your teeth that might need to be repaired with dental crowns. Bruxism can also contribute to TMJ risk, and if it progresses long enough, you might need full bite reconstruction.
Have Sugar and Caffeine Damaged Your Teeth?
Have you noticed signs of damage to your teeth, including cavities, worn teeth, or tooth sensitivity? We can help repair the damage before it becomes too serious and help you head off future damage.