Uh-Oh: This Health Trend is Giving You Cavities
Since skyrocketing to popularity and prevalence in the last few years, juicing has become as commonplace and trendy as lobs and selfies. Which is to say it’s everywhere. Whether you juice for days at a time or simply pop into your favorite cold-pressed spot for a green goddess, detox flush, or energizing citrus quench as needed, there’s a downside you may not have considered but seriously need to—cavities. Since the rise of the juicing trend, dentists have seen an alarming uptick in cavities and oral health issues, and today we’re bringing you the information you need on the problem—and how to stop your juice habit from turning into expensive tooth trouble. Keep scrolling for the scoop.
Because the juicing trend is more recent, we’re just now starting to understand its longer-term effects—and a clear problem has emerged in the dental community: a cavity epidemic. “People juice to stay healthy and feel good, but the side effects on the teeth can really be damaging,” says Dr. Gregg Lituchy, cosmetic dentist of Lowenberg, Lituchy & Kantor. “It took awhile for us to see what the results of the juicing trend would be, and now we’re seeing an increase in decay on our patients’ teeth, and this is in patients who historically have had good home care and floss their teeth and brush their teeth twice a day—the right way—and go visit their dentist twice a year. And then all of a sudden, you start to see some of those patients, who have never had cavities, or had very few cavities in their life, having more—and the question is why,” he explains.
Lituchy explains that people who breathe with their mouths open at night, as well as people with acid reflux display symptoms of enamel wearing down and tooth decay. But after ruling out those triggers, “that’s where we’re starting to hear that a lot of these patients are juicing. And sometimes, juicing as a substitute instead of lunch where they have a juice or smoothie that they’re sipping on for 20 or 30 minutes. And that’s where you put two and two together and realize the sugar content in these juices is very high. It’s like bathing your teeth in chocolate,” Lituchy says, calling the issue problematic and concerning. “Some of the juices people drink have even more sugar than soda,” he says. “And juices like lime juice and cranberry juice are actually more acidic themselves than vinegar.”
Celebrity dentist and Creative Dental Care founder Dr. Joseph Banker says, “While the vitamins and minerals in juice have significant benefits, the juice must pass through the mouth, and there can be serious consequences. The combination of the acids and sugars creates the ideal environment for cavities to form.”
But don’t fret just yet. There are a few things you can do to try to balance the damage that can be done from juicing—keep scrolling to see the simple precautions you can take to prevent juice-induced cavities.
Both Drs. Lituchy and Banker agree that the most important precaution to take is to not sip juice for long periods of time. “It’s not simply the acidic juice that causes such a problem, but rather the fact that many people sip them throughout the day,” Banker says. “This constant sipping prevents saliva from washing away the sugars and acids, and the constant bathing the teeth in juice will absolutely contribute to an increase in decay,” he says. “It’s best to drink it all at once.”
Secondly, know the worst offenders. “Lime, lemon, cranberry, and orange juices are very acidic, as far as acidity wearing down the enamel,” says Lituchy, “while bananas are high in sugar and carrots are extremely high in sugar,” he says. “But of course carrots have vitamin A, which is really good for you, and bananas have potassium, which is really good for you. So, you know, there are benefits, but big risks from a dentition standpoint.”
To further minimize those risks, Lituchy advises drinking through a straw, which keeps the juice away from the surface of the teeth. And both dentists recommend brushing the juice off your teeth to wash away the sugar and acid and prevent it from lingering—but not right after drinking it. “You want to wait anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour after finishing the juice and then brush, because juice can be so acidic that it temporarily softens your enamel,” says Lituchy. “And brushing when the tooth enamel is slightly softened can do damage,” echoes Banker. You can also drink water immediately following the juice or try adding a little water to the juice, to dilute the acid content.
1. Drink through a straw.
2. Don’t sip slowly.
3. Rinse with water afterward.
4. Brush—but only after waiting at least 30 minutes.
Were you surprised to know how big of a problem juicing is for tooth health? Will you take these precautions the next time you pick a drink? Share your thoughts! Also, shop our picks below for items to keep at work so you can always clean up after your favorite juice!