OZtensible —When Good Doctors Give Bad Advice

os·ten·si·ble (adjective) – stated or appearing to be true, but not necessarily so

Recently, famous television host Dr. Oz, had a show about dental care and tooth whitening. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on cardiothoracic surgery, so perhaps he should be cautious about doling out dental advice!

In one of the first segments, he mentions that eating raisins reduces plaque because it stimulates saliva. I have seen many children in my chair with cavities due to sticky, sugary raisins. Sure, they make for easy purse snacks that moms can give kids when they are out and about. But, we shouldn’t forget that raisins are concentrated sugar! Eating them will stimulate saliva, but all that sugar may also stimulate cavities.

His method to whiten teeth disturbs me more. He recommends a homemade slurry of lemon juice and baking soda, which is simply an acid mixed with an abrasive base. For those who may have had a few years since high school chemistry, pH concentration ranges from 0-14. Neutral is 7 (water), closer to zero is acidic and closer to 14 is alkaline (or basic). Coca-Cola has a pH of around 2, as does lemon juice. Acid from plaque is how we get cavities, so generally speaking, “Acid is bad.”

Baking soda is alkaline, or a base, so it will neutralize the acid if enough is used. However, the soda is very abrasive. While abrasives will remove plaque, they may also remove some of the enamel (the white part of the tooth), especially if the enamel has been softened from the acid.

Millions of dollars have been spent making sure tooth whitening products on the market are safe. By far, the quickest method is an in-office treatment like Zoom! Professional Whitening System. However, if the cost is prohibitive, it would be better in the long run to buy take home whitening system from your dentist or a home kit of Crest Whitestrips than make the lemon paste, and it would save your enamel at the same time.

Have any questions about dental care for yourself or your kids? Call (919) 651-8024 for Carolina Dental Arts of Morrisville NC.