Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Soda Eats Your Teeth

excerpted from Real Age

Some don't always think about dental health when they think about health and wellness and staying fit, but your mouth (teeth and gums) are actually pretty important as it is a major entry point for potential germs and decay that can lead to larger health problems. Just ask your dentist about it. Furthermore, we all would feel more confident and smile more if we had a nice set of shiny white teeth rather than a mouthful of stained and decaying teeth. It clearly can effect our mindset, behaviors and hence life so take care of them.

It turns out that a recent study found brewed coffee or tea may not be the worst thing you could swish past your pearly whites. At least coffee/tea stains can be counteracted by a good electronic brush (I highly recommend having one) and regular teeth maintenance. Other drinks tested, soda in particular, produced much more wear and tear on tooth enamel, especially bubbly soft drinks. But here's the surprise: It didn't matter if the sodas were diet or not. I know there is an army of people who drink diet soda like water, thinking it is just as good as flavored water since it is calorie free, but I have always thought that the acidic content of most sodas is bad for our system. Here is proof that it is bad for your teeth.

Erosion Explosion
When your tooth enamel starts to erode, you've got major problems on your hands. And certain foods like sweets and sodas may hasten this process. All carbonated drinks in a recent study had some impact on tooth enamel (with the one possible exception being root beer -- its impact on tooth enamel was slight). Citrus-flavored sodas hit teeth hardest, but colas caused problems, too. And it didn't matter if the drinks were diet or full-sugar.

It's the Acids, Not Just the Sugars
The total acid content and acid type -- look for names like phosphoric, citric, malic, and tartaric -- in a beverage affect how strong the attack is on your choppers. Rinsing after sipping a soda may hasten the acids out of your mouth.

To prevent tooth decay, follow these dental guidelines:
  • Schedule regular dental appointments for an exam and cleaning, including yearly X-rays. Every 6 months is recommended. You may want to ask your dentist about a fluoride treatment and sealants for teeth.
  • Eat healthy foods, low in sugar and carbohydrates. Avoid foods that are very sticky and high in sugar.
  • If you eat snacks between meals, brush or at least rinse as soon as possible. Drinking water regularly will help.
  • Brush your teeth correctly for at least 2 minutes twice a day. The most important time to brush is before you go to bed at night. The electric tooth brushes like Braun and SonicCare have timers.
  • Floss correctly between your teeth once a day. The floss sticks make this easier. Gently massage your gums with a soft toothbrush.
  • Rinse daily with a nonprescription fluoride or antibacterial rinse.
  • Chewing sugarless gum that contains Xylitol can also cleanse teeth between brushings and help control the amount of bacteria in your mouth.

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