You may unknowingly be harming your teeth unwittingly with all the things you do, eat or drink. You’ll want to read this article if you love to eat citrus fruit, or drink coffee, citrus juices, juice boxes, sparkling water or carbonated seltzer water…. anything acidic.
For example drinking kombucha can impact your teeth by impacting the enamal. Enamel is the protective hard coating on the outside of your teeth and when it comes off, tooth erosion occurs. Several health articles (written by concerned dentists) have warned about kombucha and its potentially detrimental effects on teeth.
We’ll focus today on kombucha since it’s a very popular beverage. I used to drink a little kombucha each day myself, but I haven’t done that in a while. It was probably contributing to my heartburn (see my article about that which I wrote recently called, 5 Natural Remedies for Reflux and Esophagitis.
Kombucha is sold everywhere, at discount stores, online, at health food stores and supermarkets everywhere! It’s a phenomenon these days! Some of you probably make it at home. Don’t worry, if you like the fizzy, fermented beverage, I’ll give you quick and easy tips to protect your smile from the high acid.
What happens is that the low pH (high acid) is required to keep kombucha from becoming riddled with pathogens during the fermentation process. But this acid is hurting the outer layer of your teeth. Compare a pH of kombucha 3.5, to water which is around 7 (neutral). Vinegar is around 2, and soda is about the same pH as kombucha.
Drinking anything acidic (soda or kombucha) will contribute to erosion of dental enamel and provokes growth of cavity-causing bacteria. Kombucha tastes a little bit like sweet, flavored vinegar, because it is thought to help populate the gut with friendly bacteria. You can also take probiotic supplements for this effect, if you don’t want to drink kombucha.
I talked about kombucha in one of my ebooks called Hashi No No’s which you can download below.
If you love kombucha, and enjoy drinking it, just protect yourself. It’s really easy. The tips below also apply to people who love coffee, juice drinks and carbonated beverages as well:
- Drink water afterwards, to neutralize all that acid. Also, you can rinse your mouth out with water after drinking something acidic. This washes out the acid and sugar from your drink.
- Find a flavor of kombucha that has very little sugar, or is unsweetened.
- Drink it down fast! Just be done with it, don’t sip on an acidic drink all day. This minimizes your enamel exposure to the acid. The same can be said for soda and coffee which are also acidic.
- Wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. Do not brush immediately because your enamel is most vulnerable when it has just been exposed to acidic beverages. So rinse with water immediately after drinking, and then brush your teeth 30 minutes later.
Here are 11 ways that you might be unwittingly ruining your teeth:
These drugs are popular in springtime, during allergy season. Watch out for antihistamines because they cause anti-cholinergic side effects. This leads to dry mouth through the reduction of saliva production. But it’s the saliva that helps control bacterial growth in your mouth and it contains compounds that allow for re-mineralization (strengthening) of your teeth. Saliva helps to offset the acid in foods and beverages. Medications like antihistamines can reduce saliva and therefore contribute to dental decay.
Antihistamines are not the only dental offenders. Drugs that treat Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain or hypertension. See above, because this category of meds are also usually anti-cholinergic in nature. This means they have a drying effect on the body and can lead to dry mouth.
This one is pretty straightforward. Biting your nails can crack or splinter the enamel, especially if it’s been primed by acidic drinks, and therefore weakened to begin with.
Brushing Your Teeth Immediately.
It can be tempting to wash away the garlic from your lasagna dish, but wait to brush your teeth. You should not be scrubbing your dental enamel right after drinking soda, or kombucha or anything acidic, because your teeth are most vulnerable. Wait about a half hour before brushing.
Drinking Coffee or Wine.
It stains your teeth and makes you look older. The trouble is that routinely whitening them with peroxide strips (too frequently) isn’t so great either. Just use those once in a while because the peroxide is harsh.
Some of these drugs, for example Alendronate (Fosamax) have been shown to have a detrimental impact on jaw bone, especially in patients who have had their teeth pulled. Just be aware there may be an impact on your teeth as well.
Fruit drinks and juice boxes.
The kids love these things, but again, the fruit juices are very acidic, and full of sugar so it’s a twofold blow upon their developing teeth!
This is the term for dry mouth and low salivary flow, which can be caused by medications as well as some disorders. This can be caused by a multitude of conditions among them, pre-diabetes, diabetes, stroke, thrush, candida, Alzheimer’s disease, Sjogren’s syndrome or hypothyroidism. If you have an interest in thyroid illness, or autoimmune illness, CLICK HERE to read my article on that connection.
Snoring or Sleep Apnea.
It causes you to sleep with your mouth open and this leads to dry mouth, and this can cause your enamel to suffer from the lack of saliva.
Your stomach acid is way more corrosive than soda, kombucha, fruit juice and sparkling water! So you want to keep the acid down in your stomach where it belongs, because that’s where it serves you by breaking down your meals. When you have acid indigestion, dyspepsia, or reflux… your stomach acid which has a pH of 2 flows up your esophagus and may get into your mouth if you have mild regurge, as in regurgitation (you know, where that burp brings up your last bite!). Up with that, comes the acid, which can hurt your teeth by eroding the enamel. So receiving correct treatment for your digestive problems is critical for your dental health.
The more acidic the tea, the worse it is for your dental enamel. There was a study that was conducted to determine whether conventional black tea and/or an herbal tea were capable of eroding dental enamel. You can CLICK HERE to see the brands they tested. The findings were that both could erode enamel, however the specific herbal flavor they tested seemed to have an accelerated effect and eroded the enamel about 5 times worse than the black tea.
My advice to tea lovers is simple. Just do what you would do if you drank a soda, coffee, kombucha or fruit juice and that is rinse your mouth with water immediately, and then wait 30 minutes to brush your teeth gently to remove the residue of acid from your teeth. Research on green tea (which is not herbal) has shown that it contributes to a healthy oral mucosa and can also fight various pathogens. I wouldn’t be afraid of tea, but I also would be remiss if I didn’t mention it here in my list.
Always see your dentist routinely and eat a healthy balanced diet. Consider eating more foods that are high in minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and other trace minerals. The minerals help maintain the integrity of your teeth, bones, and blood pressure.
VITAMIN D and CoQ10 are two other nutrients that are thought to help with gums and dental health in general.*
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.