What’s your New Year Resolution? | Dr. Wessner, Severna Park

A New Year and a new you!

This is what most people think as the end of a year is approaching: how can I be better next year? According to the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, weight loss was the No. 1 New Year’s resolution for Americans in both 2012 and 2013. Americans spend billions of dollars on products that promise easy and delicious results. Some of these products, however, do not result in permanent health benefits, and can actually result in negative oral health.

Many fad diets contain highly acidic contents which are detrimental to your teeth. Do you drink any of the following drinks? If your answer is yes to any of the following, please do yourself a favor and read on.

  • Cleanses, juices, smoothies and shakes
  • Soda- diet or regular
  • Energy or Sport drinks
  • Additives to water

You may be thinking, how can these drinks be harmful to my oral health? Most of us know that with too much sugar we can get cavities but we forget about the effects of acid on our teeth. As stated above, all of the mentioned drinks have highly acidic contents. When our teeth are bathed in acid throughout the day, it can cause dark staining around the gum line and strips the tooth of the hard protective layer called enamel. This bulk loss of tooth structure is what dentists refer to as erosion. Erosion can cause teeth to be very sensitive and discolored. It can also lead to a lot of restorative dental work to cover the tooth surfaces that have been lost including bonding, crowns, and in severe cases the teeth may even need to be extracted.

The trend of using cleanses, juicing diets, and meal replacement drinks is not a new fad but seems to be increasing in popularity when in todays day and age there is a lot of focus on weight loss. Many of the cleansing drinks contain lemon juice. Lemon juice has a pH of 2, close to that of battery acid which is 1! Our mouth is more balanced at a neutral pH which is about 7, same as water. In addition, some of the smoothie and juicing diets have ingredients that are not only acidic but also contain sugar and fermentable carbohydrates. If over consumed, the fermentable carbohydrates, can lower the mouth’s pH and lead to erosion and cavities.

Another way Americans try to limit the calories is diet soda. Carbonated drinks, whether or not they are sweetened with sugar, have a pH of approximately 2.7. The biggest problem is that they are often sipped throughout the day which again means this is a constant bath of acid. The citric and phosphoric acid used as flavor enhancers and preservatives creates millions of little pores in the tooth. Unlike a cavity which is usually one or two teeth, this acidic disaster usually affects many teeth throughout the mouth. If you like soda, it is better to drink one with a meal rather than throughout the day.
According to Packaged Facts, a division of Market Research Group LLC, sports and energy drinks were one of the fastest growing segments of the beverage industry. This is alarming to dentists because the teens and young adults are the biggest consumers and they are not aware of the potential damage to their teeth. Whether they are diet or not, they are all highly acidic, with a pH range of 2-3. Erosion at a young age can cause a number of issues including hypersensitivity, tooth loss, and lots of dental work.

Lastly, we all know the health benefits of water. You have likely heard, “drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day”. This is true our body needs water to stay hydrated and flush away the toxins. The problem is companies are trying to make water more appealing by making additives that make the water taste better without the extra calories. The bigger problem that dentists see is that most of the flavor enhancers contain citric acid.
After reading this, you can see the reoccurring theme is that acid is very damaging to our teeth. Dr. Morgan and Dr. Wessner do not want you to think all that is left is simply plain water but we want to educate you in making smart choices for your whole body. Don’t forget to talk to them at your next cleaning about the importance of your diet to your oral health!

Happy New Year!!