With information on the Internet so abundant and readily accessible, many are subscribing to various health trends/fads that on the surface seem like a good idea but may have overlooked consequences. I will be discussing three health trends/fads: lemon water, charcoal and fitness devices. As a dentist, of course I will be focusing on the dental effects of these trends.
First off, lemon water is nothing new, though spin offs keep cropping up. People drink lemon water to detox the body, lose weight, aid digestion, obtain Vitamin C or simply to flavor drinking water. Whatever the reason, lemons have a pH of 2 to 3, which is very acidic, and even when diluted with water, the lemon water is acidic enough to break down the enamel on teeth. Once enamel has been softened by any acidic drink (including carbonated water and water with flavored drops), it is more prone to decay and erosion. Once the enamel erodes, the dentin becomes exposed and teeth can become very sensitive and more cavity prone. How frequently you bombard your teeth with acidic drinks will impact your enamel. If you need to drink an acidic beverage, do it all at once instead of sipping it frequently throughout the day and rinse your mouth with plain water when you’re done. Also, do not brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes or you will wear your enamel even more as enamel softens when exposed to acidic foods/drinks. I’m not discounting any health benefits lemon water may have, I simply want you to think about how often it contacts your teeth. The answer will have an effect on your dental health.
Another question I get is: “How good are the charcoal products at whitening teeth?” There are now quite a few dental products containing charcoal which tout whiter teeth and fresher breath; however, research is lacking to prove those claims. Of the studies that have been conducted, it has been found that charcoal may be too abrasive for enamel, especially with daily, long-term use, and once you wear down your enamel, the yellow dentin will show through more and can actually make your teeth look more yellow. There are various reasons why teeth may be discolored (trauma, medications, food/drink/tobacco stains, etc.) so ask your dentist what safer whitening options may work best for you.
Lastly, I recently heard about a new fitness device that is supposed to burn face fat and chisel your jaw with up to 50 pounds of resistance. Sounded good until I found out that it’s done with a ball you place between your teeth and bite down on it for 20 to 30 minutes every day. Wow! Think of all the extra pressure your teeth have to endure. If you already have temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) issues, which can cause pain in the joints of your jaw as well as in the muscles that control jaw function, this could make it worse, and if you don’t, this could cause you to start having issues. Moreover, it can also cause your teeth to become mobile, sensitive, crack or need root canal(s). Teeth should not be touching or come into contact unless you’re eating so please do not place a ball between your teeth and bite down on it with 20 to 50 pounds of pressure! It may do what it claims, but you may have dental consequences as well.
The purpose of my article is to encourage you to start thinking about possible dental implications of anything that goes into your mouth — food/drink, exercise ball, etc. If you have any questions or concerns, please start a conversation with your dentist.
Dr. Sonia Tao-Yi has been practicing dentistry since 1999 and is currently co-owner of City Center Dental Care. Dr. Tao-Yi can be reached at 757-873-3001 or on the practice’s website at www.citycenterdentalcare.com.