Damaging Diets- How weight loss fads and popular drinks can hurt teeth
By: Dr. Kathy Mullaney
At the start of every year, millions of Americans resolve to improve their health, with weight loss, exercise, and healthier eating habits topping many resolution lists. An independent market research firm, “The U.S. Weight Loss & Diet Control Market” showed that Americans spent nearly $61 billion on weight loss products in 2011.
Some of that money goes to companies that create and promote products which include juice cleanses, diet drinks, and meal replacement shakes. Consumers are easily enticed by promises that make getting healthy seems both easy and delicious.
However, many of these products fail to produce permanent weight loss or health benefits, and some of these products actually may be harmful to a person’s health-including his or her oral health.
In addition to depriving the body of essential nutrients, many fad diets push patients to consume beverages, foods, or supplements with highly acidic ingredients-which can be detrimental to teeth. Repeated and unrelenting exposure to acidic foods can cause erosion of both the enamel and the underlying dentin, which is much softer than the enamel. This can lead to bulk tooth loss, extreme temperature sensitivity, and, in severe cases, the need for root canal treatment and even extractions.
Water is one of the most beneficial drinks for overall health, and nutritionists often recommend it to dieters to help them feel full and to reduce cravings. Dieters will often try to drink more water, which sounds great. But, that has begun to change as people flavor their water with substances that contain citric acid, such as lemons.
Many of my patients are not aware of how highly acidic the sports, energy, and diet soda drinks are, with the pH values of these drinks closer to that of battery acid than to pure water. Many patients are shocked to discover that they are damaging their teeth, when they thought they were doing something to improve their health.
Diet and its effects on dental health are a growing concern to us, as we have witnessed the destructive effects of popular diet fads and drinks on our patients’ teeth. You can count on us to evaluate your overall dental health during your preventive appointments and identify any signs of erosion or damage that we see. We will help you to avoid serious problems by providing information and advice. Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us. We are here to help.