Kombucha – Is It Safe For Your Teeth?
This increasingly popular ‘health drink’ could be putting your teeth at risk.
‘Kombucha’; sounds like a new form of martial arts doesn’t it? In fact, it is a probiotic drink that is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, especially with those wishing to follow a healthy diet.
It is a fermented tea-like drink that contains a small amount of naturally produced alcohol.
As it can be sometimes a little ‘vinegary’ in taste, sugar is also usually added to make it more palatable and to aid the fermentation process.
Like some natural yoghurts and other products, kombucha also contains bacteria that are said to be beneficial for a healthy gut.
How can it damage teeth?
We won’t try to validate, or otherwise, the claims that are made for the health properties of this fermented drink; that is not our role. Our Foxhall Dental Practice team are more concerned about whether drinking this type of tea will have any negative effects on your teeth.
The first thing to note is that this drink contains sugar and any type of sugar, whether a refined or natural sugar like honey, is potentially harmful to your teeth. As this drink has a slightly vinegary taste to it, it is unlikely to appeal to many pallets in an unsweetened state. Because we are perhaps accustomed to sweeter tastes these days, with sugar being added to many products, and because we can sweeten this drink to our own taste, it is quite possible that the sugar levels could be significant.
Kombucha is also an acidic drink, in some cases reaching similar levels to that found in high sugar carbonated drinks. As we have noted before, this could lead to our Ipswich patients suffering from enamel erosion on their teeth, making them more susceptible to tooth decay as well as sensitive teeth.
Should you drink it?
Our role is not to tell you what you can or can’t drink and eat. We can, and do, offer advice on those products that are likely to be more harmful to your teeth, and kombucha falls into this category. Whether it is good for you or not, we really don’t know, but if you believe that it is and want to drink it, there are a few things that you can do to minimise any harm it may cause to your teeth.
Drink in moderation
If you drink kombucha on a daily basis, you will greatly increase the risk to the enamel on your teeth. Try to moderate your intake, perhaps using it occasionally as a treat.
Use a straw
Use a paper recyclable straw to drink your kombucha. Make sure that it reaches behind your front teeth and swallow it without it coming into contact with your front teeth as much as possible. This will at least help to reduce any impact on them.
Although it may not seem intuitive, once you have drunk your drink, swill your mouth out with fresh water and then spit or swallow. This will help to remove some of the sugar from your teeth, and perhaps remove some of the vinegary taste from your mouth if you find that to be none too pleasant.
The importance of healthy tooth enamel
The enamel on our teeth is important for protecting the inner part of our teeth. It is like a coat of armour, and, once its defences are weakened, we will probably soon know about it. There are a number of likely scenarios that might happen when we don’t look after the tooth enamel.
Sensitive teeth – Usually the first sign that something is wrong. When we drink a hot cup of tea or feel the coldness of ice cream on our teeth, we are likely to wince in discomfort as our nerves detect the extremes of temperature due to our thinning enamel.
Tooth decay – Thinner enamel means that there is less defence to protect the dentin layer beneath it. This is a porous material and can be damaged by tooth decay, often leading to a toothache.
Root canal infections – If we have tooth decay treated in time, we will probably avoid this. If we don’t though, and the bacteria reaches the pulp area of the tooth in the root canals, we are likely to be in some pain. This cannot be treated with a straightforward filling and a root canal procedure will be necessary in order to save the tooth.
Treatment for thinning enamel
Although protecting your tooth enamel in the first place is always the best plan, where it is already damaged and worn away, one option to correct the damage is to use porcelain veneers to replace the damaged tooth surface. This is a long lasting treatment that can also be used for cosmetic purposes to offer a more attractive and whiter smile, as well as offering additional protection for your teeth.
If your teeth feel sensitive, you shouldn’t ignore this potential warning sign. Get your teeth checked by one of the Foxhall Dental team and help to prevent more serious problems later on!
To make an appointment, please call our Ipswich dental practice on 01473 258396.