Diet trends come and go, but juicing seems to be a popular health kick right now. The positive benefits to juicing is to give your body bioavailable nutrients, direct from plants. People who are juicing really want their health to be optimum, but a good questions to ask is "what does juice do to my teeth?" Similarly, parents are giving their children orange juice at breakfast, and apple juice with snack. Do they need to worry?
Well, the answer is yes. Juice contains simple sugars, even in the most natural form available. Adults who have never had cavities find that drinking too much juice has led them to develop dental decay. Simple sugars (called fermentable carbohydrates) feed the bacteria that cause decay. In addition, juices are acidic—not much better than battery acid. Acid in your mouth does two things. First, it lowers the pH (acidity level) in mouths so that those decay-causing bacteria can flourish (they love acid). Second, acid chemically erodes enamel off your teeth and the enamel thins and thins. Enamel is the hardest substance in your body and we cannot grow it back. Once you've lost it, it's gone.
Brushing your teeth right after drinking juice is a bad idea. The outer layer your teeth is softest when the tiny minerals have just left the tooth structure. And minerals leave your teeth everytime they are exposed to sugar and acid. Brushing takes that outer "soft" layer away, so wait at least a half hour to allow your saliva to bring the pH level closer to neutral.
One of my favorite dental geek terms is remineralization. It's a term to describe increasing the pH in your mouth to neutral and allowing minerals to flood back into your teeth. It's a way of reversing cavities! Yes, cavities can be reversed if they aren't deep yet! There are fluoride-containing and fluoride-free products that both promote remineralization. Remineralization not only reverses cavities, but reverses and prevents tooth sensitivity.
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My suggestion, as a local Plymouth, MN dentist, is that you feel you must drink juice, have it with a meal and limit the amount you consume. Please don't give your children juice in a sippy cup and let them walk around with it. Please don't sip all day on a 48 oz. cup of freshly squeezed juice such as kale-apple-celery juice. Chug it down and wait to brush for thirty minutes. Last and not least, wise advice is to visit your dentist and see if your teeth are at risk for problems due to juice.
Below is a link to find out current stats and more helpful hints to prevent cavities in children.
Below is a link to an article about juice smoothies, in the middle of the page is a recipe for a non-cavity forming juice. I'd love feedback about how it tastes!