Posted on May 31 2018
By Dr. Libbi Finnessy, owner of Bellevue Dental Health
Photos by Madison Gould
THE EFFECTS OF JUICING
You’re leaving Soul Cycle and a fellow sweatmate asks “Hey, you want to grab a juice?” Long gone are the days one would add “fruit” powder to a water bottle or down a fructose-laden beverage. Juicing is no longer a fad - it’s an incredible health benefit that’s here to stay. However, long live the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson - every cause has an effect - begging the question; what are the effects of juicing on your oral health?
Your teeth and gums make up the majority of your oral cavity and while we could focus on the hundreds of thousands of dentinal tubules or the myriad of cemento-enamel junctions, we instead are going to learn ways in which to best benefit our bodies with juice - #wholebodyhealth
Juicing floods our bodies with an immense amount of nutrients, boosting our immune systems, upping our energy, bettering our digestion, and even causing our skin to glow like a pregnant lady wearing La Mer Liquid Foundation on hot day. But what most don’t think about is the effect of all these causes. So Emerson, I digress.
Pitfalls of this epic way to slam in a few extra servings of leafy greens and fresh fruits exist but we have the power and (after this article) knowledge to combat them.
Most of you understand the damage acid does to teeth - think coca cola on the egg shells seen at middle school science fairs (wait; is this one of those times I should realize not everyone went to these fairs?) - well, acid eats up all the good stuff. So let’s make sure we are upping the greens and veggies in our juices, and if we are adding fruits - ensure we avoid the most acidic fruits such as citrus ones to lessen the acidic content hitting those pearly whites.
FIGHTING BACK AGAINST THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS
Some of you might think like Monica from “Friends,” “I KNOW!” I should just brush my teeth after I juice to minimize any damage from my juice. Heck, it’s what my dentist said to do after my morning brew to avoid staining and that icky breath I’ve been having (also coined halitosis). But in fact, the opposite is true - brushing after a juice is actually worse. So break out that Sonicare prior to the JuJuBeet drum. A toothbrush in and of itself is meant to be abrasive - to knock off plaque and stain from teeth - but when mixing that with the erosive nature of acid in your juice - you are going to scrub your beautiful enamel away - and it won’t be pretty.
What else can we do? You can utilize a straw - and while Seattle is becoming strawless - you don’t have to be - get a BPA-free sipper to use and reuse - allowing the antioxidant-rich drink you are imbibing to bypass the destruction zone in your mouth as quickly as possibly, heading right down your esophagus to pack the best health punch!
Take things a little further - swish with some water or mouthwash to bring that magical mouth of yours back to a basic (non-acidic) state - keeping it free from any cavity-formers creeping in. And one more pointer - drink that juice in one sitting - don’t sip it away all day. Our mouth ebbs and flows. Hang in there with me while I get a little scientific. I’m a dentist - a self-proclaimed nerd. Alas...say it’s one of those days - I’ll call it a “I’ve unloaded the dishwasher for the 17th time this week, packing kid lunches are on my last nerve, spilled my almond milk latte on my pencil skirt, why must all soccer practices start in the middle of rush hour, I want to sit under the table and weep/scream day” but others might call it a “I’m craving chocolate day” - it would actually be better for you to enjoy all six squares of chocolate in a 30 minute period than chew on one heavenly confection every hour.... but, why? Glad you asked - we all want to avoid CAVITIES and sipping on juice all day long and/or chewing on a tiny treat every hour does just that.
Cavities form from a toxic marriage of carbohydrates and bacteria that live in our mouths (I’ll refrain from getting all hot and bothered slinging around thoughts of Lactobacillus casei and Actinomyces naeslundii and such for your benefit). Think of bacteria like PacWoman or PacMan spitting out acids in their wake. Before we feed the video game bacteria, kindly note people; our mouths are happy at a pH 7 - also known as neutral. When those sugary foods, carbs, and fruit juices come in, the pH drops to 5.5 or below - the cavity zone - a zone that these acids literally leach mineral content from our teeth - primarily the calcium and phosphates in our enamel. Leaching anything sounds terrible and actually is terrible, so let’s be sure to avoid that. Raise the pH like the roof (raise hands above head!). Of course we have to eat, but what we don’t need to do is continue to drag our pH down “minute after minute, hour after hour” (Cue Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise puhlease!!).
Listen, naturally our bodies are smart AF and will get our oral cavities back to neutral in about 30-60 minutes. Are you starting to see why drinking that juice quickly vs. sipping all day long on it can be trouble? We want to decrease PacPeople war zone spans of time on our chompers. Thus, drink your libation or nibble on that sweet treat in one sitting and not all the live-long day.
Some of you (not me, of course - cough-cough) are over-achievers - so I’m including this little pearl (pun intended)…
Studies have been done - of which again, I will keep to my scientific self - on oil-pulling (I will explain how to do this below) and the ways in which it has been shown to decrease gingivitis - inflammation of your gums - the kind that causes your gums to bleed when you floss - it is not the floss - trust me, but rather your lack of flossing. I know, I'm @thebossofthefloss.
Grab your coconut oil, my peeps...simply swish around a tablespoon or so in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes before spitting the oil (and pulled toxins! Um, hence the name) into the trash. Yes, I wrote minutes and not seconds on purpose. Oh, and btw I learned this the hard way so PSA: do not spit oil into any sink – coconut oil hardens and WILL clog your drain! And to be fair while 15-20 minutes would be brilliant each day - those wicked studies have shown benefits in as little as five minutes per diem.
SO IN THE END WHAT DID WE LEARN, FOLKS:
1. Floss - obviously.
2. Juice is here to stay and that's a great thing, but always include more veggies than fruit in your concoction.
3. Drink your juice in a short way, not all damn day - to decrease the PacPeople coming to demineralize and cavitate your only set of teeth (assuming you no longer have any visits from the Tooth Fairy).
4. Brush before and rinse after a juice.
5. Pull those toxins with coconut oil.
6. Drink more Jujubeet.