A great article from the most recent issue of AGDImpact magazine about liquid diets and the effect they have on your teeth. Think that juice cleanse is healthy? Think again!
I was shocked to discover that I was damaging my teeth when I thought I was doing something to improve my health.
At the start of every new year, millions of Americans resolve to improve their health, with weight loss, exercise, and healthier eating habits topping many resolution lists. According to the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, weight loss was the No. 1 New year’s resolution for Americans in both 2012 and 2013. Further, a 2011 study from the independent market research firm Marketdata Enterprises, “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 these products, which include juice cleanses, diet drinks, energy bars, sports drinks, and meal replacement shakes. Consumers are easily enticed by promises that make getting healthy seem both easy and delicious.
However, health professionals warn, many of these products fail to produce permanent weight loss or health benefits, and some of these diets and 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. As dentists know, repeated and unrelenting exposure to acidic food and drinks can cause erosion of both the enamel and the underlying dentin, leading to bulk tooth loss and, in severe cases, the need for endodontic therapy and even extractions.
As your patients resolve to improve their health in 2014, many may turn to popular diets or health trends. As health case providers, dentists should be prepared to recognize and treat the problems caused by these products, educate their patients on the dangers they may pose, and recommend food and drink alternatives that will help them reach their health goals without damaging their teeth.
Weight-loss drinks and supplements
Kay Jordan, DDS, FAGD, of Marrero, La., knows just how damaging weight loss products can be on a patient’s teeth. She encountered a problem in September 2012 when longtime patient Belinda Alonzo, 50, presented with cervical staining and multiple cervical caries, even around her crowns. Dr. Jordan was surprised to see damage similar to what is observed in chronic diet soda consumption-a habit she knew Alonzo did not have. “She had never exhibited anything like this before,” Dr. Jordan says. She noted that Alonzo always had excellent oral hygiene habits and regularly visited the office for checkups and cleanings.
When Dr. Jordan asked Alonzo if she has made any changes to her diet, she discovered that her patient had begun using a dietary supplement program to curb her hunger and promote weight loss. Alonzo was using an appetite-suppressing powder, which she added to 12 ounces of water and drank once a day, 30 minutes before her lunch. Curious to see if it was the culprit of Alonzo’s dental damage, Dr. Jordan researched the weight loss product online and found that it had a very high acid content. The product touted chlorogenic acid as one of its principle active ingredients, along with other ingredients like alpha lipoic acid and citric acid. Dr. Jordan knew she had found the cause behind Alonzo’s increasing staining and caries, and she advised her patient to stop using the diet product immediately.
Before visiting Dr. Jordan, Alonzo said she noticed changes in her oral health. “I noticed a lot more food sticking at the gumming,” she says. “Plus, I was having to floss more often.”
Dr. Jordan showed Alonzo the extent of the recession at her gum line. “I could see, especially on my eye tooth, where more of my tooth was exposed,”. she says. “I was shocked to discover that I was damaging my teeth when I thought I was doing something to improve my health.” Since stopping the appetite suppressant, Alonzo says her symptoms did not deteriorate further, and she has not experienced any additional erosion.
Cleanses, juices, smoothies, and shakes
Consuming a low-calorie liquid diet isn’t a new health fad. The trend of using detox cleanses, juicing diets, or meal replacements shakes to spur weight loss and boost energy has been taking place for decades. Liquid detox diets first appeared in the 1970s and recently regained popularity after celebrities like Beyonce embraced them for their weight loss needs. These diets, which claim to detoxify the body, improve health, and aid in weight loss, often require dieters to consume a highly acidic drink-a popular one used by many consists of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water-for at least 10 days.
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