Waterford, MI Dentist
Lloyd H. Alpert, D.D.S.
4025 Highland Road
Waterford, MI 48328
(248) 682-6010

Energy Drinks and Your Child’s Teeth. Should You Worry?

The hard clack of cleats echo about as your “little” sports hero rushes to get out of the house … soon to be late for practice. Armed with all they’ll need for a day in the sun, their equipment bag is packed and slung awkwardly over one shoulder, bursting at the seams with untold numbers of pads and dirty gear. And after making a final beeline through the kitchen to raid your refrigerator of a 64oz bottle or two of rainbow-colored sustenance, they’re off for what will no doubt be another grueling practice session. You’re proud of your kids – they’re growing up. And yet you wonder as you stare at the door that just shut behind them. Are those techni-colored drinks they’re drinking every day hurting them?
The truth, unfortunately, is yes. While they may keep your children energized and awake for the next few hours, the bad news is, they’re secretly eating away at their teeth - and fast. 

Why Are Energy Drinks Such a Threat to Teeth?

The crux of the problem is the double-whammy that comes from an exceedingly high sugar content and citric acid pH that can be as low as 2.9. Now, we understand pH can be a tricky thing to understand, so to help put that number in perspective, a bit, consider this: battery acid has a pH of 0.0 (so, a lower number means a higher acid content). Stomach acid (which we can imagine as being quite acidic, at least!) has a pH that fluctuates between 1.0 and 3.0.  A lemon, in contrast, comes in at around 2.0, a grapefruit at 3.0, and tomato juice at 4.0. 
The real distinction though is in knowing that with each increase in numerical value, the acid intensity increases 10-fold. So, in the example above, a lemon ends up being 10 times more acidic than a grapefruit, and 100 times more acidic than tomato juice - a sensation you can certainly taste if you bite into one!  In contrast, milk and water have a pH of 7.0, so, it's easy to see the difference in the numbers - they're huge.

The Science

What all this means to your child’s teeth is the real question, though, and precisely what researchers at Southern Illinois University set out to discover in 2012.  The results, which surprised even the research team, showed considerable damage to tooth enamel after only five days of steady consumption. Five days. 
To determine the effect of these drinks on our teeth, the research team looked at 22 popular sports and energy drinks, and exposed artificial tooth enamel to the beverages for 15 minutes at a time, four times daily. This schedule was chosen because it mirrors the consumption habits of many users who drink these beverages every few hours - a particularly common habit among those who consume sports drinks, particularly when your kids are involved in sports.  After each 15-minute exposure, the enamel was then placed into an artificial saliva solution for two hours to mimic what would happen once consumption stopped.  After only five days on this schedule, the enamel showed a 1.5% loss with sports drinks, and a shocking 3% loss with energy drinks. 

The Critics

While critics in the beverage industry suggest the time used to expose the enamel to the drinks may have been excessive, it's widely known that snacking, as well as regular sipping of any beverage other than water, creates acidic activity in the mouth that promotes tooth decay. Of course, adults also need to be careful, and if you’re the weekend warrior type, or are pulling shifts and consuming these beverages throughout the day, the time of exposure might actually not be long enough.  The sweet spot is in the middle-ground, and that's basically the advice we're going to offer today.
There is no doubt that these beverages are not good for our teeth. They're also not good for our stomach, and esophagus if one is prone to acid reflux.

The Middle Ground -- It's about being Informed

We're not asking you to force your kids to give up their sports beverages and energy drinks. However, it is wise to know the risks, and to understand how you can help your kids combat some of their side-effects. Here are two quick tips that will help if they can't shake the habit:

  • Have them keep water nearby so they sip on it to dilute the acid covering their teeth. This also increases saliva production to help protect tooth enamel.
  • Suggest that they don't brush immediately after consuming such beverages.  Why? Because in the thirty minutes to an hour after consumption, tooth enamel will be slightly softer, and brushing in this window of time literally ends up spreading the acid around to other parts of the teeth. Not good.  If brushing is desired, save it for an hour or so after.

Lastly, here is the breakdown of most caustic to least caustic drinks as found by the researchers.

Sports Drinks:

  • Filtered Ionozed Alkaline H2O – pH: 10.0
  • Water – pH: 7.o
  • Odwalla Carrot juice – pH: 6.2
  • Odwalla Vanilla Monster – pH: 5.8
  • Unflavored Pedialyte – pH: 5.4
  • Vita coco – pH: 5.2
  • Aquafina,Dasani, Smart water – pH: 4.0
  • GU2O – pH: 4.29
  • Powerade – pH: 3.89
  • Accelerade – pH: 3.86
  • Gatorade Endurance – pH:  3.22
  • Monster – pH:  2.7

Energy Drinks:

  • Red Bull – pH: 3.3
  • AMP Energy – pH: 2.7
  • Monster Energy – pH: 2.7
  • Full Throttle  - pH: 1.45
  • Rock Star – pH: 1.5
September 21, 2016
Category: Dental Floss
Tags: floss   types of floss   flossing  

Types of Dental Floss and Aids - A Guide to Dental Floss

If you are not familiar with dental floss then it is easy to assume that there is only the one type but you’d be wrong. There are in fact several types of dental floss which include:

•Waxed and un-waxed floss

•Teflon floss

•Thread floss

•Flavored (e.g. mint) and unflavored floss

•Tape floss (also known as ‘dental tape’)

These all have the same thing in common: they are soft, flexible and easy to use.

Thread, Teflon and waxed/un-waxed floss is thin whereas dental tape is thicker. Your dentist or dental hygienist will be able to recommend the most suitable floss for you. You may have to try several varieties until you find the one that suits you best.

It is usually a case of personal preference.

Floss is also available in different ‘shapes’, which is spongy, flattened or round. There is also a variety called ‘superfloss,’ which is a combination of all three.

There is also the option to use a special ‘flossing aid,’ if you have difficulty with flossing your teeth.

Waxed and un-waxed floss

Some dentists prefer un-waxed floss as the threads tend to absorb food particles better than the waxed version. They claim that waxed floss leaves a film on the teeth which then act as a magnet for plaque.

On the other hand, some people find that waxed floss is smoother and moves more easily between the teeth than un-waxed floss. It is less likely to catch on any rough edges of your teeth or start to fray.

One example is Oral-B Waxed Dental Floss. They also offer a mint flavored variety.

Teflon floss

This type of floss works quickly and easily. It is made from Teflon which means that it will not stick in between your teeth but if it does, then it comes away very easily.

A well-known brand of this type of floss is Crest ‘Glide’.

Glide appears to have attracted rave reviews and is especially designed for people who are reluctant to floss their teeth. It is made from a shred-resistant material and is stronger and more durable than many other types of floss. It also moves or ‘glides’ easily between your teeth – hence the name ‘Glide’.

Thread floss

This is made from nylon and works in the same way as any other type of floss.

Flavored and unflavored floss

A flavored type of floss, for example mint or cinnamon, is more pleasant to use and leaves a nice, clean taste in the mouth. There is also a type of floss which is coated in fluoride which may protect against tooth decay.

The unflavored type of floss is as the name says.

Tape floss (dental tape)

This is thicker than conventional types of floss and is often preferred by people who have widely spaced teeth. It is an ideal type of floss for people new to the habit and has the advantage of not breaking or fraying.

It also has a smooth action when sliding between the teeth and for that reason, is often chosen instead of the thread type floss.

An example of this is Colgate Dental Tape.

Flossing aids

A flossing aid is designed to help people who find flossing awkward or difficult to do. However there are several types of aids which are designed to make this easier to do. These include:

•Vibrating dental flosser

•Dental floss holder

•Flossing stick

Vibrating dental flosser

A vibrating flosser is easy to use and has the additional benefit of massing your gums at the same time. But they are more expensive than the conventional flosser.

Dental floss holder

A floss holder is available in a particular form, e.g. a ‘Y’ shape and is effective at helping to clean between the teeth. The floss is attached to the holder and used in the same way as someone using their hands.

Floss holders vary in length and those with the shorter handle are more difficult to use.

These are ideal for people with dental implants, a bridge, orthodontic brace or crowns.

Flossing stick

These resemble a common or garden stick and are most effective when the floss is wound tightly onto them. Basically, the tighter the floss the greater its effectiveness.

Are there any alternatives to dental floss?

Toothpicks or ‘interdental’ brushes are an option although floss is great at accessing those tricky areas between your teeth and under your gum line.

Article Courtesy of:


Not at Home? How to Get Rid of Bad Breath on the Go

When you wake up in the morning, getting rid of that bad morning breath is a no-brainer: You head to the bathroom and use toothpaste and mouthwash to freshen your breath. Scoring fresh breath at home is simple, but knowing how to get rid of bad breath while you're out and about can be trickier. After all, you're not always going to be near a sink or have your toothbrush handy. That's why it's important to have a backup plan in place. That way, if you do suspect that you have bad breath, you'll have a few tricks up your sleeve to get rid of it.

Sugar-Free Gum and Candy

Bad breath can sometimes be linked to poor salivary flow, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). The ADA suggests that chewing a stick of sugar-free gum or popping a sugar-free candy into your mouth can help get rid of bad breath and — if the gum or candy is mint-flavored — leave a fresher smell behind. Chewing gum and sucking on candy promote saliva production, which helps clear the tongue and teeth of bad-breath-inducing food particles and bacteria. Keep a pack of sugar-free gum or candy in your pocket or purse so you always have a backup plan.

Portable Mini Brushes

Keeping your toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste in your pocket may not be the most inconspicuous way to score fresh breath on the go. Adding a package of mini brushes, such as Colgate® Wisp®, can help you banish bad breath with a quick trip to the powder room. Designed to work without water or extra toothpaste, this pocket-sized bristled toothbrush has a toothpaste gel in the center. Use it once and toss it for quick touch-ups.

Chewing Parsley

In some situations — think of eating a garlicky meal on a first date — you may not have the tools for fresher breath in your pocket or purse. You're in luck if your dinner came with a parsley garnish. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that chewing a bit of parsley or a sprig of mint can neutralize bad breath. Grab a piece and chew it quickly, and you'll have fresher breath within a few seconds.

Talking to Your Doctor

Quick fixes work well for bad breath that sneaks up on you at an inconvenient time. If you constantly suffer from bad breath, it may be more than just an annoyance. Talk to your dentist about possible causes of bad breath, which can include tooth decay, recent dental work and even digestive problems. Discuss how to get rid of bad breath that is caused by a more serious condition. Whether it's a once-in-a-while problem or a consistent issue, bad breath can be resolved with quick fixes and long-term solutions.

Source: Colgate: Oral Health Center


Why Some Are More Prone to Cavities

Eliminating plaque can help prevent cavities.

The world is full of inconsistencies. One of the biggest inconsistencies that we see in the dental office is the disparity in the amount of tooth decay between family members. One member of a family may be haunted by decay while another can eat and drink to his heart's content, never brush and never have to make an appointment for dental restorations after he gets dental cleanings. It is all so unfair!

To begin decay, one must have four essential ingredients. They are: the tooth, germs (plaque), food for the germs, and time of exposure. If any of these is missing there is no decay. Sugar, or food for the germs, will not cause decay on its own. For instance, if you put a tooth into a bag of sugar, nothing would happen to the tooth. Of the four decay-causing ingredients, plaque is the most important to eliminate. Plaque is a sticky mass of germs that adheres to the tooth's surface. Good brushing and flossing removes the plaque; this is most critical step to decreasing decay.

Everything we eat and drink is also food for the germs that inhabit our mouth. Chewing and saliva break down complex carbohydrates into simple sugars, which in turn feed the bacteria. The germs do not actually eat your tooth. The bacteria digest the sugars creating and excreting acid. The acid dissolves, or decays, the enamel and the root surface of the tooth forming what is commonly called a cavity. To top it off, the bacteria love living in an acidic environment.

One way to break the cycle is to do what dental professionals have been saying for years, brush your teeth and floss. This breaks up the bacterial colonies and removes them from the tooth surface. Two or three germs will not cause a cavity. But two or three germs can multiply and become organized into a "germ city" in order to create enough acid to do damage to the tooth. So it's important to disturb the colonies and remove as much bacteria as possible as often as possible.

The type of bacteria is the confounding element in the disparity of decay rates between family members. Let's say that there are 10 different germs (out of over 400 different germs that live in the mouth) that cause cavities. If we have two brothers and they both have the same number of germs in their mouths, say 100, the brother with a majority of germs at the top of the list will have more cavities than the brother that has a majority of germs at the bottom. The first brother has a bigger challenge. He must be more meticulous with brushing and flossing and may need to incorporate more complicated dental hygiene measures into his daily care than the second brother. Talk to your dental care professional about fluoride supplements and special mouthwashes.

While it isn't fair that one sibling has this problem and another doesn't, it just proves that each person is his own organism. The brother with more decay may be smarter or have better luck with the ladies. It all eventually evens out.


During all of the "Back to School" hustle and bustle, don't let your kids' oral health slip between the cracks! Make sure you add your kids' next cleanings to your list.  Beat the stress of scheduling around school and work schedules by making their appointments now. We look forward to hearing from you today!

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