Sink Your Teeth into These Questions
Should you have a cup of tea? Must your wisdom teeth go? Find these answers and more by taking the quiz below.
1. Tea is bad for your teeth: True/False
2. Wisdom teeth should always be removed: True/False
3. Drug use can ruin your teeth: True/False
4. The best way to get used to dentures is to wear them 24/7: True/False
5. If you have no teeth, you're more likely to have kidney disease: True/False
1. False. Brewed tea is one of the safest things you can drink for your teeth besides water. Acids and sugars in some sodas and fruit drinks can erode tooth enamel almost as badly as battery acid. Tea does not erode teeth, the journal General Dentistry reports. What's more, tea is good for you in other ways: It's full of healthy antioxidants. Green tea seems to be healthier than black tea. Don't load your tea with milk, lemon, or sugar, which lessen tea's health benefits. Steer clear of prepackaged iced teas full of citric acid and sugar, too. Heavy tea use can stain teeth like coffee, but tea stains are often easier to remove. Brush after drinking tea.6
2. False. There is no simple answer. Those extra molars at the back of your mouth are assets when they're healthy and grow into the right spots. However, they may be prone to problems that require their removal. Often, our jaws aren't big enough for our wisdom teeth to grow in correctly. They grow sideways, emerge from the gum only partway, or damage the teeth next to them. Ask your dentist if your wisdom teeth should stay or go, says the American Dental Association (ADA).7
3. True. Some of the worst cases involve heavy methamphetamine users. Their teeth can rot, crumble, stain, and turn black in as little as a year-a condition called "meth mouth."1 Dentists say acidic methamphetamine tends to lead to a dry mouth, tooth grinding and clenching, periods of poor dental hygiene, and a craving for high-calorie carbonated beverages.1,5 Teeth often deteriorate so badly they must be pulled, the ADA says.1 Other forms of drug use, such as narcotics, can affect the health of your mouth and body, too, because such abuse is linked with poor nutrition, high sugar intake, poor oral hygiene, and spotty dental treatment.3
4. False. You should take out dentures for at least eight hours a day (or at night). This gives your gum tissue a rest and lets your tongue and saliva stimulate and cleanse your mouth, the Academy of General Dentistry says. You should also remove and clean your dentures daily. If you have a partial denture, take it out before you brush your teeth and clean it at the same time you brush your teeth.4
5. True. A study of 4,000 U.S. adults found that those with no teeth were more likely to have chronic kidney disease, according to the Journal of Periodontology.2 Why? While no direct cause-and-effect relationship has been discovered, chronic inflammation plays a role in both kidney disease and-when periodontal (gum) disease goes untreated-tooth loss.2
1"ADA Applauds Legislators for 'Meth Mouth' Bills." American Dental Association. www.ada.org/public/media/releases/0707_release04.asp. Accessed 2009.
2"Clinical and Serologic Markers of Periodontal Infection and Chronic Kidney Disease. M.A. Fisher et al. Journal of Periodontology. September 2008, vol. 79, no. 9, pp. 1670-8.
3"Drug Use." American Dental Association. http://www.ada.org/prof/resources/topics/druguse.asp. Accessed 2009.
4"Fill in the Gaps with Some Denture Facts." Academy of General Dentistry, November 25, 2008. www.agd.org/support/articles/?ArtID=4512. Accessed 2009.
5"Methamphetamine Use and Oral Health." Journal of the American Dental Association. October 2005, vol. 136, no. 10, p. 1491.
6"Topographic and Radiographic Profile Assessment of Dental Erosion. Part III: Effect of Green and Black Tea on Human Dentition." M.A. Bassiouny et al. General Dentistry. July/August 2008, vol. 56, no. 5, pp. 451-61.
7"Wisdom Teeth." American Dental Association. www.ada.org/public/topics/wisdom_teeth.asp. Accessed 2009.