Just as you’d go to your beauty therapist for recommendations on changing your eyebrow shape to fit with the current fuller trend, so you should also head to your dentist before trying some of the latest health fads.
Chances are, some could be harming your oral health.
With all things mouth-related firmly on the agenda with Dental Health Week next week (August 5 to 11), the Australian Dental Association (ADA) is urging health-conscious Aussies to think twice about diving into some of the current health fads.
“Some are not as healthy for the mouth as you might think,” says ADA Dental Health Week spokesperson and dentist Dr Mikaela Chinotti.
“They don’t take into account the health of your teeth and mouth along with the purported benefits to the rest of your body,” she explained.
“For optimum oral health, we’re reminding people during Dental Health Week to follow the four key steps in our ‘How’s your oral health tracking?’ campaign – brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, visit your dentist regularly, and eat a nutritious diet low in sugar.
“Those basic steps will go a long way to ensuring the best oral health possible and reduce the chance of more expensive treatments down the track.”
Here are a few health trends that might be harming your teeth and mouth:
Lemon or lime water
Lemons and limes are citrus fruit which mean they’re acidic so adding a squeeze of lemon or lemon and lime slices to your drinking water decreases the pH of your water from a neutral ph of 7, to a more acidic level which can damage your teeth.
Consumption of an acidic liquid results in an acidic mouth environment, which can lead to tooth enamel becoming softer. Thinking brushing your teeth will sort this out? Think again - immediate brushing (even up to an hour after drinking lemon water) can lead to wear of your teeth. It’s tricky to know if it’ harming your pearly whites though, as there won’t be any symptoms in the short term.
Frequent use can also lead to increased tooth sensitivity. If this occurs, stop the culprit drink, use desensitizing toothpaste and visit a dentist to be sure there are no other causes for your tooth sensitivity.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV)
The traditional method of creating apple cider vinegar includes apples, water, time and air via a fermentation process creating acetic acid. ACV has been used for hundreds of years by devotees for a range of ailments including relief from arthritis, clearing acne, balancing digestive issues and freshening the breath.
But ACV affects the mouth in a similar manner to lemon water. Vinegar has an average pH of 2.4 to 3.4. So, if you’re going to drink it, ensure it is heavily diluted with water, rinse your mouth straight after and wait at least an hour after drinking it before brushing to avoid damaging the softened tooth enamel with firm brush bristles.
Sugar is added to Kombucha to allow for the fermentation process; however, it’s used up during this process with no sugar remaining at the end. So, while it may appear healthy, beware of added juices to the kombucha as this increases the added sugar content, increasing the drinker’s risk of tooth decay. Kombucha is very acidic because as the brew ferments, an increase in acidity prevents other microorganisms from growing. The pH of Kombucha is on average 2.5 to 3.2 and can cause similar oral issues to those caused by lemon water and ACV.
When consuming acidic drinks, it’s best to do so in a single sitting, preferably whilst also eating, and not sip periodically during the course of a day.
“Saliva plays a large part in restoring the mouth pH to a neutral state, but frequent sipping of acidic drinks can lead the mouth to not being able to recover after continual acidic insults.
“Drinking water or chewing sugar-free gum can help flush out the mouth and stimulate saliva production to assist in decreasing the acidic oral environment.
“And brushing too soon after consuming such drinks can lead to wear of the softened tooth enamel which eventually causes visible erosion or wear with prolonged use. Again, wait over an hour before brushing.”
Over-the-counter tooth whitening
If you’re wanting a whiter, brighter smile, the best person to discuss this with is a general dentist. Over-the-counter whitening products or tooth-whitening performed by non-dental professionals can come with risks such as gingival tissue chemical burns from the whitening solution.
Also, if you have undetected or untreated tooth decay, the whitening treatment may cause sensitivity or discomfort. Some ingredients, such as sodium chlorite in over-the-counter whitening products have been shown to reduce the microhardness of tooth enamel, increasing susceptibility to tooth abrasion.
Charcoal products have been used for decades due to their ability to draw-out toxins and are currently a big hit in the health and beauty industry. However, the Australian Dental Association recommends against the use of charcoal products for brushing the teeth.
These products can cause wear of the teeth due to the abrasive nature of charcoal particles and many of the toothpastes don’t contain fluoride, an important ingredient of toothpaste that protects and strengthens the teeth. Recent studies have also reported concerns of the carcinogenicity of ingredients such as Bentonite clay or polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).
You’re probably more likely to hear of bi-carb soda for teeth cleaning as a throwback to your grandparent’s generation – though it does also appear in health blogs due to its numerous uses. Bi-carb soda has its place due to its neutralising ability. However, because of its abrasive nature, the ADA advises limiting use of bi-carb soda/water mixes as toothpaste replacement for brushing your teeth.
Some vaping products contain nicotine and studies show people using vaping devices tend to move on to – or back to - cigarettes after their use. Cigarette smoking is a well-known risk factor for oral cancer.
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