To coincide with Dental Health Week that kicking off August 6th, Dr Peter Chuang from the Australian Dental Association Oral Health Committee shares his insights about the drinks that are secretly ruining your teeth.
We know that water is good and soft drinks are bad. But what about other drinks? We’d like to think we make informed choices - but did you know that some drinks, which may seem like healthy choices for your body, are actually ruining your teeth at the same time? What’s good for the gut, might not be so good for the gob!
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The main culprits are primarily two ingredients: sugar and acid. Sugar causes teeth to rot (decay), while acid erodes the outer layer of your teeth (enamel) - both of which can lead to pain and sensitivity. Most of us already know this, but it’s the fact that these ingredients are often hidden or masked behind ‘healthy’ drinks that can make it confusing. What’s worse, many of these drinks are consumed throughout the day - this frequency of consumption makes it doubly damaging, as teeth are essentially ‘bathed’ in sugar/acid all day long!
We all know that fruit is good for us, and many of us might enjoy a daily glass of orange juice with our breakfast. However, oranges and other citrus fruits such as lemons, grapefruits, as well as pineapple, contain high sugar and acidity levels. In liquid form, these drinks quickly coat your teeth in acid and sugar, which can lead to an increased risk of enamel erosion, teeth sensitivity and tooth decay. The better alternative is a whole piece of fruit (eg apple or banana), which is healthier than because it contains less sugar and acid, and more nutrients such as fibre.
Most of us can’t get through the day without at least a cup (or two) of coffee or tea. But did you know that coffee is also acidic? This daily exposure to acid can cause enamel to erode away slowly, increasing sensitivity in your teeth. Furthermore, if you are used to having sugar in your coffee/tea, the sustained daily exposure to sugar can quickly lead to tooth decay. Try a sugar-free alternative instead if you like to sweeten your daily cup.
We all know that sugar sweetened beverages lead to tooth decay but they are not the only drinks that cause problems.
We know that exercising is essential to our well-being. But did you know that sports and energy drinks (eg Gatorade, Red Bull) often contain just as much acid and sugar as soft drinks? You might think that drinking these products gives you a boost in your energy levels, but they are damaging your teeth at the same time! What’s worse, if you are sipping on these drinks constantly, whether it’s during a sports match or a late night out, the sipping maintains high levels of sugar and acid in your mouth, increasing the risk of sensitivity and decay. At the end of the day, water is the best form of hydration for the body as well as your teeth!
LEMON/APPLE VINEGAR WATER
A popular way to ‘detox’ or ‘cleanse’ the body is a daily a glass of lemon water or apple vinegar in the morning, or throughout the day. The issue is that both lemons and vinegar are highly acidic, and, when frequently ingested throughout the day, can quickly lead to heightened levels of teeth sensitivity.
For many Aussies, drinking is an integral part of socialising, whether it’s going for after-work drinks, celebrating an event or simply as an accompaniment to a meal. Wine, in particular, has recently been spruiked as a healthy because of its antioxidant properties. However, that distinctive tart flavour in wine is due to the high levels of acids contained, with white wines having a higher level than red wines. The fermentation process also introduces varying amounts of sugar - dessert wines, in particular, are high in sugar. Alcohol also dries out the mouth by reducing salivary flow, increasing the risk of tooth decay.
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It’s not to say that we should eliminate these drinks from our diet, but as with all things, moderation is key! You can minimise the effects by some simple tips such as drinking fruit juice of soft drink through a straw. After consuming these drinks, it is beneficial to rinse your mouth with some tap water, or chew some sugar-free gum, as this will help neutralise the acids. In addition, try not to brush immediately after, as your enamel is more porous and may be damaged by the action of the bristles of the toothbrush - wait for at least an hour to allow time for the acids to neutralise.
About Dental Health Week
Dental Health Week is an annual oral health initiative lead by the Australian Dental Association, aimed at promoting the importance of oral health for all Australians. Dental Health Week kicks off on Monday 6th August, with a focus on helping Australians to recognise the importance of oral hygiene practices as well as highlighting the preventative importance of regular visits with their dentist. The emphasis for 2018 is Watch Your Mouth, which brings to light the importance of caring for your whole mouth. Visit, www.ada.org.au/dental-health-week/ for more information.