Monday, March 24, 2014

STOP DRINKING COKE! The Good & the Bad Drinks for Your Teeth

Colas aren't the only bad boys on the block.

I recently interviewed Dr. Rafael Ramirez the Cosmetic Dentistry Specialist at Alicia Dental Paradise in Cabo San Lucas. A Mexican dentist, former head of maxillofacial surgery for 16 years at a Mexico City hospital and expert implantologist, he had a lot to say about how different beverages can affect our teeth.

According to Dr. Ramirez: "Recent Studies have shown that dark colas are bad for your teeth. Other studies show that light colored sodas are bad and another study recently proved root beer to be the safest soda of all." Confused yet?

The doctor told me to lay off Coca-Cola – “Poison” were his exact words - and being especially bad for the kidneys. That´s 3 strikes for Coke – strike one for the teeth, strike two for the waistline, and strike three for the kidneys. I haven't had a coke in 8 hours now...

Folks who assume that switching to juices or canned tea drinks will save their teeth and waistline are wrong according to another study. Sugar is the usual suspect - It's found in most canned juices and teas as well as soda pop. Soda is so loaded with sugar that health authorities in NY are considering banning the purchase of sodas with food stamps. Too much sugar consumption causes obesity, dental caries, diabetes, and more and the state shouldn't be using taxpayer money to allow people to make themselves unhealthy. Or so the thinking goes.

Sugar - The chef's secret.

But people love sugar. The chef's secret. Put sugar in the sauce, soup, bread etc. and the response will always be “Oh that tastes good, what´s your secret?” Sugars found in soft drinks of any kind, juices, canned teas and especially sports drinks like Gatorade are hazardous to your teeth as they react with your mouth's natural bacteria and form acid that erodes your tooth enamel over time. Americans who consume on average 600 cans of soda a year are on the highway to dental hell - cavities, root canals, crowns, bridges, dentures, implants await all as sure as death and taxes.

The doctor noted that even sugar-free soft drinks are bad, as the acid ingrediants present damage your tooth enamel as well as the sugars in the others. Citric acid (read the drink bottle labels) causes as much damage as the sugar and it's found in many soft drinks and juices. In Mexico we drink a lot of jamaica flower and limon water. Prepared at home and sweetened with honey, these drinks are rich in vitamins and rate low on the list of tooth destroyers. But commercially bottled brands of jamaica are just as loaded with sugar as sodas.

The universal bad boy of soft drinks is Coke. But other drinks such as Arizona Iced Tea, Sprite and Mountain Dew fared just as badly in research studies at the University of Maryland Baltimore Dental School.

Tea is all over the board when it comes to health. Herbal teas according to some studies cause damage to the tooth enamel while black tea encourages the growth of cavity fighting healthy bacteria. White tea is better but harder to come by. Milk is recommended by dentists for it's high calcium, and coffee isn't so bad as long as sugar isn't added… But one has to be a hard-core java junkie to go that far. One teaspoon of sugar in a cup of joe has to be much less harmful than the 10 teaspoons of sugar found in a cola drink.

How to keep that smile perfect:

You can minimize damage to your teeth by drinking soft drinks with a straw bypassing the teeth as much as possible, eating a meal with the drink, and rinsing with water or black tea after. Wait at least a half-hour after drinking before brushing your teeth as the tooth surface is already soft from the acids and will be further aggravated by brushing. Sugar-free gum helps restore healthy cavity fighting mouth bacteria in the saliva. Finally, drink water between meals. Lots of water – besides your teeth, your kidney and waistline will thank you.

For information about Dental Vacations in Mexico and Mexican dentists, Free Estimates and Referrals to top Board Certified Dentists in Mexico where you can save 50 - 75% on your dentistry - 

Visit: Dr. Nelson Henry's Mexico Dentist Guide

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