It is not only foods that can damage your patients teeth its drinks as well. The effects of hard and sugary foods are well documented and most people know how to be aware of what they consume, but damage caused by liquids is often overlooked and can do as much damage as solids although the damage may be different.
Coffee, Tea, Soda And Red Wine
While most people are aware that these drinks can stain your teeth, many people are not aware that the stained teeth attract bacteria and increase the chance of you getting cavities. Limit the amounts of these drinks you consume and be sure to rinse out your mouth with water after drinking them. You can also use a straw or beverage container spout to keep the liquids away from your teeth.
Tea is sometimes considered a super food because of its antioxidant content. It can cause tooth erosion, but not as much as citric juices, soda and energy and sports drinks. We are all aware of the sugar on your teeth, but what most of us are not aware of is the acid that is present," says Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny, a restorative dentistry professor at Temple University. "Cavities form when bacteria in the mouth mixes with sugar, leading to decay. Erosion occurs when chemicals strip the mineral off the teeth. The seriousness of the erosion is far more than decay. Erosion affects all teeth at once, as you can imagine acidic fluid is running through the entire mouth. This causes hypersensitivity, discoloration and cracks on the teeth. Serious cases require crowns or even dentures if entire teeth have disintegrated.
Research has linked that acidic beverage consumption to increasing tooth erosion. A person who has bulimia or acid reflux disease could get tooth erosion, because of stomach acids in their mouth, but the more common culprits are often beverages. In Bassiouny's study, human teeth were soaked in unsweetened green and black tea and they did not erode until the 16th week. Teeth soaked in lemon juice, vinegar, and soda showed physical changes by the second week. Teeth soaked in black tea eroded more rapidly than those in green tea.
"Tea is controversial," added Dr. Clark Stanford, Associate Dean for Research at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. "Certain types of tea can actually stabilize the amount of tooth loss or demineralization of the surface. Others, if they have a low pH, can cause natural erosion of the tooth surface."
Fruit Juices And Energy Drinks
While your patients may be aware that sodas and sports drinks are loaded with sugar and acid and can damage your teeth, they may not think about the sugar in the fruit juice because of its health benefits. Be sure to limit your intake on fruit juices and also rinse your mouth with water after drinking them.
A study published this year in the Journal of Dentistry showed that orange juice decreased enamel hardness by 84 percent. Lemon, orange and grapefruit juice can also strip away the enamel with their acidity.
"We encourage adults if they're going to have kids drink fruit juices, which is good in a way, that they consume it all at once instead of sipping on it all day long," Stanford said.
Lemon juice showed the highest erosion, according to Bassiouny's study, which was published in the May-June issue of General Dentistry.
"We're not saying, 'Don't drink orange juice, " Bassiouny said. "Don't drink orange juice then go to the office, then have a diet soda at lunchtime. You are asking for trouble because of the frequency of the contact and the challenge of the acid contact to your teeth."
Researchers at the University of Iowa's College of Dentistry found that energy drinks and sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Red Bull, eroded the enamel more than soda and fruit juices. In a 2008 study published in the journal Nutrition Research, the dentists soaked extracted human teeth in various liquids for 25 hours, and then measured the structural changes, or lesions.
"Power drinks can be quite acidic, usually because there is an addition of citric acid to those to give it tartness that is desired by some consumers," Stanford said. "It's important to look at the label and see if citric acid has been added."
Many over-the-counter cough medicines are also loaded with sugar. There are also other medications such as antihistamines and birth-control pills that can lead to dental problems.
Many cough drops and liquid medications contain a variety of ingredients that make your teeth more susceptible to decay. Ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and sucrose contribute to decay when the bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars, breaking them down and forming acids that attack the enamel of your teeth.
Ingredients such as citric acid can wear down the enamel of your teeth. In addition, some antihistamine syrups contain low pH levels and high acidity, which can be a dangerous combination for your teeth. The addition of alcohol in some popular cold and cough syrups also has a drying effect on the mouth. Saliva helps to naturally rinse the sugars and acids away from your teeth so with less saliva present, the sugars and acids remain in the mouth even longer, leading to greater risk for decay.
These risks can be magnified if medication is taken before bedtime. The effects of taking liquid medication before bedtime aren't much different than drinking juice or soda before bedtime because you produce less saliva while you sleep, sugar and acids remain in contact with the teeth longer, increasing your risk for decay.
To lessen the effects of the sugars and acids in liquid medication, take liquid medication at meal times instead of bedtime so that more saliva is produced to rinse away the sugars and acids. Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste after taking medication. If you cant brush, rinse your mouth well with water or chew natural sugar-free gum without artificial sweeteners after taking liquid medication. Take calcium supplements or use topical fluoride after using liquid medication. If its available, choose a pill form of the medication instead of syrup.
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