Hey Boulder What Are You Drinking, Kombucha?
Patient since 12 years old, 20 years later at a regular checkup with x-rays:
Doctor: Kelly you have 16 cavities.
Patient: That can’t be – I’ve never had a cavity. I brush, floss, Waterpik.
Doctor: What are you drinking?
Patient: I’m addicted to Kombucha.
Doctor: So is the rest of Boulder, please stop.
Patient: I will, today!
This conversation happens every week in our Incredible Smiles office. We are finding cavities almost daily as the result of kombucha consumption. It’s our #1 question now when we find cavities.
But what about all the benefits? Really? You would risk your teeth eroding, needing fillings, teeth becoming sensitive and teeth staining for the probiotic benefit?
Take a pill instead.
Boulder – you don’t drink soda or smoke cigarettes because you know that’s bad for you. Look at your label for sugar quantity and remember that the acidity is accelerating tooth erosion. That’s not all that is going on with kombucha!
The two main levels we should be looking at are sugar content in grams and acidity measured by pH.
The average soda (1 – 12 oz can) has an average of 39 grams of sugar.
Please note that when you look at the label you may see 10grams of sugar listed on the label. Look closely – how many servings per container – if it says 2 then double your 10 grams to 20. You are now approaching the sugar content found in some sodas.
Some brands of kombucha have differing sugar levels – look at your labels.
Note: 2 servings, each serving has 10g of sugar. Total for the container is 20 grams.
The pH of homebrew kombucha can be as low as 2.0. A common pH is 3.5 – 4.0. Did you know that sodas like Mountain Dew have a pH of 3.1 and Coca-cola has a pH of 2.5? Sure there are probiotic benefits to kombucha but would you risk the high potential for tooth decay for the probiotic benefit? If kombucha or soda is left on the teeth too long or if someone sips on these beverages all day long it is a constant stream of acidity that will break down the enamel.
The Decay Process
Once the acidity and sugars break down the enamel layer then the decay finds its way to the layer just beneath the enamel – dentin. Dentin is softer than enamel and now the decay process goes faster. Think of an M&M – once you get through the hard outer shell (enamel) the milk chocolate (dentin) melts fast.
If you must drink kombucha (I would argue that you have other choices) then please don’t sip all day. Drink kombucha and be done. Then minimize the effect of sugar and acidity by rinsing with water. If you can brush your teeth then do that and floss. Scrape the sides of your teeth with the floss for best cleaning practices.
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