September 17, 2007

Bad Teeth

During my last dental checkup, my dentist noticed an increase in bacteria and damage to my gums and teeth. He expressed obvious concern and I had admittedly not been flossing as much as I should and we're not talking about lots of decay, but the amount of damage was really strange to me.

If you ask most people who know me, they will tell you that I have reasonably good teeth. Every dentist I've ever had has asked if I had braces when I was younger because my teeth are nice and straight. My teeth are also generally very clean and white. Really, I have good teeth and I take pretty good care of them.

Good dental hygiene can help you stay strong and healthy. Bad hygiene can make you susceptible to disease and according to some shorten your lifespan.

So, anyway, I was both disappointed and surprised to get such a bad report at my dental check up and I was convinced that merely reducing my flossing back to just 3 - 5 times a week could not account for this.

Then I realized the problem: Orange Juice.

I started drinking orange juice during the day almost exclusively about 6 - 9 months ago. My company supplies us with orange juice, so my thought was, "Hey! It's free, it tastes great, and it's got vitamin C, so it's good for you."

Yes, vitamin C is good for you and orange juice also contains goodly amounts of potassium, so it can help with sore muscles. OJ even counts as a serving of fruit for the food guide pyramid that some people go on about so much.

But orange juice also contains LOTS and LOTS of sugar.

Basically, I've been feeding my mouth bacteria quite heartily for the past 9 months or so, to the detriment of my smile. Granted, this is just a hypothesis, but the idea is given more strength by considering what I stopped drinking for the sake of the OJ: tap water. Water is good for you, but tap water also contains things like fluoride, which help teeth.

So, anyway, I'm limiting myself to one glass of OJ, tops, and consuming tap water again in its place.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at September 17, 2007 11:31 AM | TrackBack

Actually, the sugar problem with respect to dental health is an issue of prolongued exposure. People who are constantly sipping at something sugary essentially turn their mouths environment into "sugar zones", no matter how much or how little they consume. However, if you consume your sugary beverages all at once, then the mouth's environment will shortly return to its normal, fuel-barren state. The same goes for candy, and anything, really, that you munch on constantly.

Strictly as a matter of dental health, you could consume a gallon of orange juice healthily (for the mouth any way) if you did it all at once, or only with meals. But even a single serving of OJ, if nursed over the course of the morning, will expose your mouth to the same dangers as you have probably exposed it to in the last several months.

Incidentally, this is why dentists recommend brushing after every meal. Bacteria need time to consume, waste, and breed. If you only supply them with fuel (i.e. the food matter that doesn't go down your throat) only for short periods of time, i.e. meal time, they starve and can't infest your teeth.

Posted by: Rachel at September 17, 2007 12:15 PM

P.S. I'm really glad that I have a special fondness for water and iced-tea (Yankee-style, hold the sweetner, please). I can nurse a 32 ouncer along all morning (albeit with frequent potty breaks) and not worry about calories or tooth decay. (Admittedly, tea is ordinarily caffeinated. Ah well.)

Posted by: Rachel at September 17, 2007 12:18 PM

Perhaps I should clarify: OJ was my primary source of hydration.

This means that for the past 9 months with the exceptions being only those times when I wasn't at work, I was almost constantly drinking OJ. In a day, I estimate that I probably drank anywhere from a half gallon to a gallon and a half in a day depending on how busy and thirsty I was.

I am no slouch when it comes to getting my fluids!

Posted by: Flibbert at September 17, 2007 12:47 PM

Yeah, drinking OJ isn't the direct problem. If you drink a glass of it and then a glass of water, you'll be absolutely fine. So either brush your teeth during the day or just drink water after drinking orange juice.

Posted by: Ritu at September 17, 2007 07:50 PM

Maybe I haven't been clear here: I was drinking orange juice constantly. All day. Every work day. No glasses of water in between. For somewhere around nine months. There is no way that much sugar is good for a person's teeth.

I am very confident that the leading cause for the increase in bacteria was the sheer volume of sugar I was putting in my mouth day in and day out.

My solution for this is to enjoy my orange juice, but not rely on it as my primary source of fluids in the day. I am back to brushing and flossing daily.

Posted by: Flibbert at September 17, 2007 11:01 PM

Or you could just drink your drink instead of constantly sipping it all day long. I think that's what they are driving at.

Posted by: Inspector at September 17, 2007 11:41 PM

It would be unwise to attempt to consume all of one's fluids at once. Besides, when my glass gets empty, I go refill it.

Posted by: Flibbert at September 17, 2007 11:46 PM

It's your body dude; I won't presume to know better than you how to fill it with fluids. I'm just saying that there are people out there who just drink their drinks - somewhere between chugging them and nursing them all day long. It's a thing that people do.

Posted by: Inspector at September 18, 2007 01:25 AM

Weird people, maybe!

Posted by: Flibbert at September 18, 2007 06:46 AM

Weird? I have just one thing to say to that.

Posted by: Inspector at September 18, 2007 10:09 AM

"I'm gonna bweeoop you silly."

HAHAHAHAAAA... That show cracks me up!

Posted by: Flibbert at September 18, 2007 10:31 AM

Inspector -> ;)

Flib -> Plus, if you are consuming OJ all day long, that's a pretty significant source of calories, and since it is pure carbs, no fat or protein to temper it, that means your insulin must have been spiking. In other words, I bet that is also a major contributor to any troubles you may have had with weight gain (or attempts at loss).

Posted by: Rachel at September 18, 2007 11:41 AM
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