From apple cider vinegar shots to collagen in coffee, you know a health trend when you see one. Not all are created equal, but it's fun to test them all out — and will them to make you a more vibrant and well human. But as we drink, eat, slurp, and chug different tonics in the hopes of becoming healthier, we could be overlooking an important piece of our health. Our dental health.
Dr. Brian Kantor, DDS, a cosmetic dentist at Lowenberg Lituchy & Kantor, says that our mouths are more connected to the rest of our bodies than we realize. Here are some health trends he says may take a toll on our teeth, gums, and overall mouth health.
Apple Cider Vinegar
There are all kinds of rumors going around about this sour and affordable elixir. "Experts" and brands tout that it can boost weight loss, and lower blood sugar — although the University of Chicago Medical Center wrote that many of those claims were myths. But taking shots of ACV also may be hurting our teeth. “Apple cider vinegar is acidic and can erode enamel,” Kantor says.
Most nutritionists will tell you that it’s better to stick to a consistent, healthy diet than to go on a crash juice cleanse. And, evidently, so will dentists.
“I’ve seen an increase in decay, even with those who have good home care habits and see their dentist twice a year,” Kantor says. “The juice seems to sit at the junction where the tooth meets the gum and in between teeth, so flossing and brushing right after drinking juice is very important." Basically, the sugar from juice can wear away tooth enamel and ultimately cause cavities. The bacteria can also irritate the gums and eventually could lead to gum disease. "There is a direct association between having an inflammatory response in your mouth, such as gum disease, to having an inflammatory response in the rest of the body, such as heart attack," Kantor says. Yikes.
If you must juice, Kantor recommends drinking from a straw to keep the juice away from the surface of the teeth, and brushing your teeth 45 minutes after drinking. “Cranberry and lime can be so acidic and temporarily soften the enamel," he says. "So you don’t want to brush your teeth while they are in this softer state. This way, the acid won’t eat through and the sugar won’t cause cavities.” Another tip for juicing: Dilute it with water so it's less concentrated when it hits your mouth.
Many of us have made the switch from dairy milk to almond, coconut, cashew, or oat milk. There are perks to these milk alternatives, especially if you have a lactose intolerance or avoid dairy for ethical reasons. But it’s important to choose your carton wisely, Kantor says. Unlike regular milk, many of these milks are sweetened, so it’s important to pick unsweetened varieties to avoid sugar that could eat away at your teeth.
Secondly, calcium is important because it gives our teeth strength and shape, as Harvard Health reports. Almonds also have calcium, and most nondairy milks are calcium fortified to include it. However, Healthline advises to looking for milks that have at least 120 milligrams of calcium per 3.4 fluid ounces to make sure you’re getting what you body needs.