Drinking lots of sugary tea can be almost as bad for your teeth as sipping fizzy drinks, the British Dental Health Foundation has warned.
Older people who might suffer from recurring decay are particularly at risk, said the dental charity, reacting to a report in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition that claimed drinking tea can be even healthier than drinking water.
The BDHF agreed that tea can be good for oral and general health, but said many of these benefits will be reversed if people take sugar with their tea.
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Foundation, said: ‘It is absolutely true that tea can have a variety of oral and general health benefits.
‘It contains fluoride which strengthens tooth enamel and has been proven to reduce tooth decay, it has anti oxidants that clear your system and it re-hydrates you.
‘However, many people take sugar with their tea and this can cause tooth decay if consumed too frequently.
‘Tooth decay is a problem in Britain. It can be a particular problem for the elderly who might suffer from recurring decay where their teeth have been weakened by fillings.
‘In addition older people are often less health conscious. For people who drink six or seven cups of tea per day – each with two sugars – these drinking habits can be almost as bad as the constant sipping of fizzy drinks by young people.
‘With that in mind, we recommend that people who take sugar in their tea limit their tea drinks to mealtimes where possible. Milk and water are better between meals alternatives.’