If you think you’re being a model of dental virtue because you brush your teeth vigorously after every meal, here’s something to chew on. Dental erosion — the loss of the protective enamel coating on the teeth — has increased in the US, according to a new study. When the enamel diminishes, nerves become exposed, causing victims pain and increased sensitivity. Plus, the teeth yellow and become brittle, more likely to decay, and they develop ugly V-shaped notches.
What does dwindling enamel have to do with your excellent brushing hygiene? Apparently, friction can cause dental erosion — and that includes hard brushing, picking at your teeth with a toothpick, or wearing a retainer. But the rise in erosion is more likely due to our ever-increasing consumption of acid-based drinks and medications that eat away the enamel. Chemicals found in soda, citrus fruits, tea, coffee, and sports drinks can be factors. So can taking certain drugs such as aspirin and having medical conditions that bring stomach acid into the mouth, such as gastric reflux and bulimia.
The bad news is that the condition has become quite common among very young people. The study found that 30 percent of students ranging from ages 10 to 14 have tooth erosion — a solid indicator that soda consumption is the primary culprit, as kids that age haven’t had years enough to brush the enamel off their teeth, nor aspirin enough to melt it away.
It may not be life-threatening, but those who wince every time they eat something hot or cold know how debilitating the condition can be, as do those whose smiles have gone Medieval and those who are losing teeth due to decay.
Until now, the primary prescription for protecting teeth from erosion has been fluoride — both in toothpaste and our drinking water. But lest we forget, fluoride has been implicated in:
- Destruction of the immune system
- Thyroid disease
- Up to a 39% increase in various cancers–with an astounding 80% increase in rectal cancer
- Genetic changes both in sperm and other cells
- Dramatic increase in heart-related deaths
- Brittle bones
- Bone cancer
- Chronic fatigue
- Gastrointestinal disturbances
- Increase in infant mortality
- Developmental issues in children
- Skin rashes after bathing
- Vision problems–including blindness
- Not to mention mottled teeth
- And it is well established that fluoride is an extremely potent enzyme inhibitor.
Oh yeah, and in addition to all the above, it doesn’t work.
But now someone is proposing a “better” alternative. According to an article in the Daily Mail, Arm & Hammer has released a new toothpaste that contains liquid calcium that purportedly plugs microscopic gaps in the enamel. The product is being introduced in Great Britain, with an intro in the US market to follow.
Unfortunately, what Arm & Hammer giveth with one hand, it taketh away with the other. The company boasts that in addition to liquid calcium, their new toothpaste also has “fluoride to fight cavities” and a “subtle minty taste.”
Ah, well! I guess we’ll have to wait until Arm & Hammer realizes that there’s a large market for something that actually “replaces” fluoride rather than just adds to it. Until such time as A&H wakes up and produces a non-fluoride version, best to cut back on the fizzy drinks and save your teeth.