New Year, New Me.
That’s what we’re all thinking as the year draws to a close, right? With the festive season now behind us, suddenly, we’re all reevaluating our life choices… Some great; some not so great.
As the clock strikes midnight on the 31st of December, we promise to make lifestyle changes like “I’m going to cut out sugar from my diet” or “I’m never waking up hungover ever again” so we can try to be a better version of ourselves. “New Year’s Resolutions” can be very hard to stick to but sometimes we succeed and a new, healthy habit is formed!
Beware What You Read On The Internet
But, while you’re deciding on your new year’s resolutions, stop for a second to consider that some of the ideas you come across on Insta may not be all they’re cracked up to be. At best they might give you a new focus and better health, but at worst, some of these ideas on the internet can actually be harmful, especially to your oral health.
Here are 3 common “healthy ideas” that we’ve come across in our browsing that you might want to take with a grain (maybe a heapful) of salt. (Although you might actually need to cut out salt from your diet to be healthier, amiright?)
1. Drinking Infused Or “Detox” Water
This has been a thing for a while now. Cut up pieces of lemon, strawberries or oranges (or whatever fruit tickles your fancy) are added to plain water, supposedly boosting the “health value” of H2O itself. Apparently, “lemon detox water” (and other fruits) will rid your body of toxins, improve your gut health, improve your mood, make you glow, aid in weight loss and boost your energy levels. All sounds pretty amazing for not much effort yeah?
So what’s so bad about it?
Well, let’s just take lemon for example. When pieces of lemon are steeped in water, the pH of the water changes from neutral (pH 7) to become more acidic. This is important to note for your teeth because acidic foods and drinks can cause your tooth enamel to erode or wash away and also raise your risk of developing tooth decay. Enamel erosion can lead to tooth sensitivity and in severe cases, require extensive dental treatment to rebuild the lost tooth structure!
So imagine, in your attempt to be healthy and all you drink is this amazing “detox” water, in actual fact, you might be doing more damage than good!
We recommend that if you are going to try this at home yourself, to drink all of the water with fruit in it during one sitting, as quick as reasonably possible. Then wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth so that you aren’t brushing the acid into your teeth more. Then continue to drink regular tap water throughout the day. Your teeth will thank you for it.
2. Eating Smaller Meals, But More Frequently
If you’ve been thinking about shedding a few extra kilos as part of your new year’s resolution, you’ve probably read a blog somewhere that eating small meals throughout the day is how you win the battle of the bulge. Supposedly, frequent snacking, as long as it’s healthy, keeps your metabolism humming, wards off hunger, and controls blood sugar.
So eat 6 times a day and lose weight? What’s not to love?!
Well, firstly, research has shown that splitting calories among 6 meals, rather than 3 offers no weight loss advantage. In fact, it can make people want to eat more! What the?
Secondly, snacking is a habit that actually increases your risk of tooth decay!
See, saliva is your body’s natural defence against tooth decay. Bacteria in our mouth produce acid when we eat anything that contains sugar, natural or not, which damages our teeth and saliva works by neutralising the acid and putting back lost minerals into your teeth. This good work can be undone if you’re constantly snacking because your teeth don’t get a break from the acid attacks that occur when you eat. So by eating 6 small meals in a day, your teeth are now exposed to more frequent acid attacks and your risk for tooth decay increases.
We recommend that you think carefully about your dietary choices and consider keeping snacking to a minimum where possible.
3. It’s Natural So It’s Ok
At the end of the day, sugar is sugar. Even though naturally derived sugars are better than processed sugar, when it comes to our teeth, the bacteria that live in our mouth like them all the same. Whenever we eat foods that break down into glucose, fructose (from fruit), sucrose (table sugar) or lactose (from dairy), decay-causing bacteria feed on these sugars and produce acid as a byproduct. The acid then wears away at the enamel, eventually causing tooth decay.
So just because you’re substituting processed sugar with something a lil’ bit fancier like honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut sugar etc., it doesn’t mean you now have the license to eat it as much as you want and as often as you want. You do still have to be mindful of how much of these natural sugars you’re adding to your diet and its effects on both your oral health and your overall health. Don’t let new marketing buzz sway your mind on how “healthy” these sugar substitutes really are.
It’s great to have more choices and substitutes for sugar these days, so we recommend simply not throwing caution to the wind and being mindful of those choices.
Consider Your New Year’s Resolutions Carefully
And there you have it! The 3 New Year’s Resolutions that are actually not so good for you!
So whether your New Year’s Resolution is to read more books, spend less time on Facebook or eat more vegetables, just think long and hard about the 3 ideas in this blog. They’re not all they’re cracked up to be.
Dr. Grant McGrath BDSc
Jasmine Ooi BPharm