Healthy drinks can play havoc with our teeth
Now, we’re not going to make any crazy statements — like ‘fruit is just as bad as sweets’ or ‘juicing wrecks your teeth’ — because that would be over-dramatic and misleading.
But it is true that dentists have noticed how certain ‘healthy eating’ or weight-loss and detox trends are taking a toll on the nation’s dental health.
It’s even affecting children, with a recent report published by the Royal College of Surgeons stating record numbers of under-fives are having rotten teeth removed — with fruity snacks among the culprits.
So what are the health trends, ‘harmless’ habits and diets causing damage, and what can you do to avoid it?
Starting the day with a hot water and fresh lemon — a traditional detox method — is seeing a popularity resurgence right now, with fans boasting flatter stomachs and glowing complexions as a result.
But Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at SuperfoodUK.com, warns: “Watch out for the advice on drinking warm lemon juice in the mornings. Lemon juice can cause problems with the enamel on teeth. It is great to have warm water with lemon, but drink it through a straw to help prevent tooth damage.”
Zero calories for a satisfying crunch — but munching ice cubes isn’t as harmless as it seems. “Some people add ice to their drinks to increase their hydration levels. This is great and anything which increases water intake is good, but don’t crunch or bite on the ice. This is a common habit, but can leave your teeth vulnerable to damage,” says Wilkinson. “Let the ice melt and sip your drink.”
And green tea, while not as bad as coffee, can cause staining. “Make sure you don’t swish it around your mouth. Just drink it straight down,” says Wilkinson.
It’s nonsense to demonise fruit but the surge in popularity of juicing and smoothies, in regimes promising speedy weight-loss and detoxing, has impacted the nation’s dental health, leading to a rise in enamel erosion, sensitivity and decay.
Fruit’s natural sugar, fructose, is a common cause of cavities as the bacteria in the mouth feed on it. Wilkinson adds: “If you do have a fruit juice, drink it through a straw to help prevent this damage. Even better — swap to a vegetable smoothie.”
This often applies to sports drinks, too.