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To all the unqualified dentists among us

Posted by on Aug 11th, 2010 and filed under All Posts, mi vida, Newz. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Fizzy drinks are one of the best things we can consume to rot our teeth.  Mainly because of the ACID, not the SUGAR.  Of course sugar does play a role, but in fizzy drinks, it takes the back seat.

This has all come about after a conversation at work yesterday.  Where I was pretty much singled out as the one who ‘doesn’t have a clue about what might rot teeth’.  The discussion started when one of my colleagues came back from the vending machine with a can of Diet Coke, claiming he opted for it because of the ‘better flavour’ and because it had no sugar so would be better for his teeth.

So of course, I challenged both the views.  Taste is subjective, so that wasn’t an issue, however the part about the sugar content was.  I said that the drink still contains lots of acid and would therefore still rot his teeth.  To which I was ‘told’ (fact?) by more than one person that the “acid is the least of the problems” because it “isn’t much different to the natural pH in the mouth”?!  What, are you serious??  Despite my love for the drink I know Coca Cola is so bad for your teeth, so of course hearing that it was similar to the natural pH of saliva made me laugh!

But then, it seemed I was being singled out as the non-science student here.  Therefore how could I possibly know anything about science, with my GCSE and my ‘common’ sense?  Right?  tut tut.

Coca Cola’s pH value of ~2.5 (Diet ~3.1) is somewhere between vinegar and gastric acid.  Consider that stomach acid is said to rot teeth of bulimic people and it has a pH of 1.5 to 3.5.

Also, look again at this link to a message on why brushing your teeth straight after vomiting is so bad – because of increased risk from acid erosion.  Of course, from sugar on your teeth right?  Hmm.

Now usually I wouldn’t be bothered about such office discussions because of course I know I am right.  As usual(?).  But, it’s when people who don’t have any facts to rely on, start to make up reasons why they would or should know.  Then laugh at me for challenging their ideas based on – nothing (common sense and listening to my dentist).

If someone was to tell you something, then reel off a load of scientific jargon to justify it (assuming wrongly that you don’t understand), are you going to just say “ahh, yes you must be right, because you sounded confident”  No.  Well, at least I don’t.  I would never give someone ‘fact’ and back it up with “Because Tom said so.  He studied it.”

I have never understood why people assume someone’s level of formal education gives them credentials in all areas of general knowledge.  If you have a PHD in English, that indicates to me that you could possibly know NOTHING about erm, say, PCB milling in computer manufacture.  But then at the same time, just because I can quote a random phrase doesn’t mean that I know anything about it either.  So if ever a comedy moment arises when someone says “Yeah, but he/she has a(n) [insert qualification here] so he/she knows more than you” – I’d take it as seriously as a toddler trying to ambush me.  Seriously.

Give an opinion and I’ll accept it as an opinion.  Give a fact, then you better have your sources because I’m going to look it up later.  Simple.

Then if you’re wrong. I’ll prove it to you:

http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v196/n5/pdf/4811041a.pdf – from page 286, British Dental Journal Volume 196 No. 5 March 13 2004




http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-299775/Fizzy-drink-tooth-rot-sets-in.html – Tabloid, ahh well.  Still a source.







11 Responses for “To all the unqualified dentists among us”

  1. AW says:

    Oh wow this issue really got to you, didn’t it! Glad sugar isn’t as bad as fizzy drinks (I hardly ever drink them… unless I’m at the pub because I don’t feel like anything else)!

  2. TheOffender says:

    Crikey – this did upset you didn't it? Sorry – it wasn't my intention.

    What I originally said is that I was opting for Diet Coke because of my teeth, from there it got out of hand. If you remember though, I did concede that the diet Coke isn't harmless but I did make the error of attempting to quantify my claim for which I stand corrected. I do, however, retain my view that Diet Coke is better for my teeth. For time based reasons (and because you put down so many references which took me ages to read) I have only got time for 1 link: http://jada.info/cgi/content/full/133/4/527 which states that research into the detrimental nature of phosphoric acid is preliminary (ie – not yet concluded).

    In respect of your references, I would just like to say the following:

    If you read your BDJ reference, you would realise that the children in the study were only asked about their 'fizzy pop' consumption and no differentiation was made between diet pop or otherwise so this cannot be used as evidence.

    The NHS link, the mail and the BBC all use this same journal as the basis of their article and references made to diet drinks are not backed up by references and so cannot be used as evidence.

    Note that in the Colgate uses the words 'could potentially cause problems'. This is because the article from which the citation came from was speculative and encouraged more research in this area. Again, no evidence.

    Science daily uses no relevant citations, instead, the only evidence supplied is a paper on energy drinks compared with other drinks. (An article you might like to read :)).

    Emed sites a paper that confirms that diet is better than full fat and again prompts for research.

    WiseGeek is esentially a wiki under the charade of a respectable website using 'guest authors' with no credentials or citations.

    Your associated content link is the best one but I have 2 reservations about his one. 1st, the author is the 'Featured Arts & Entertainment, Business & Finance and Music Contributor', I'm not saying her research isn't valid – but – this brings me to my 2nd point, that is that the research that she is citing is funded by 'Ion Life', a company that makes money out of selling alkaline water ionizers that are said to combat the effects of acid intake. This association removes the impartiality of the research and so I would be careful about quoting this as 'evidence'.

    The CNN article refers to a professional giving anecdotal evidence about 1 patient. This is statistically significantly flawed and I would recommend avoiding this type of evidence when trying to substantiate scientific fact.

    Finally, the Virgin link refers to phosphoric acid for which no research other than immersion testing has been carried out and then the effects have been described as on par with those of ethanoic acid.

    Oh, and on the bulimia thing, you are right, however, your pH range is off. The normal range is 1.5 to 3.5, however, this tends to be closer to the 1.5 than the 3.5 in sufferers due to the repeated loss of gastric fluids and hence more concentrated acid. I'm not saying you're wrong, but, I thought this is an interesting aside.

    I'm not trying to say you're wrong, but, I would be careful as to what you term as proof when trying to argue your point. I am still open to new references so please do send them out and I am more than happy to be proved wrong.

    So , about the diet Coke thing… it's better than fat Coke, or at least that is the scientific consensus as supported by your own references. I do concede that I was wrong to make assertions about the quantitative comparison of the detrimental effects and I did go on to admit that my degree is 10 years old and urged you to look at the BDJ. I think you're right though, I should stop drinking it, but for now, it is the lesser of 2 evils. Or at least until they do more research into aspartame and I die at the age of 33 with some disease that hasn't been named yet.

    I do sincerely regret that you felt the way you did yesterday and apologise, because certain things you said are true and, you are right, there are some traits that I have that I am not proud of and will work on. However, your assumptions about what I actually think about your scientific knowledge are way off and I don't appreciate the straw-man argument style character assassination as published above although I do understand that this was written in the heat of the moment.

    If you really do think that I think so lowly of your opinion as your blog suggests then perhaps the only thing I can confirm 100% on this post without the need for research is that you are wrong my good man.

  3. Hey, thanks.

    Yes it was a conversation between 3 people that I felt got a little carried away.. But I wasn't intending to character bash anyone, so I am sorry if it came across that way. My writing 'style' can come across pretty defensive with these things.

    I know you don't think lowly of my opinion, it wasn't directed at you, more at the conversation – some of the things mentioned above didn't come from your mouth anyway. This really wasn't supposed to be a scientific contest, but just an example of when education comes up as a defence when no other facts are present. Also to show 'Mrs X' that it's not wrong to challenge opinions delivered as facts.

    I do have the occasional blowout on this site every now n then (See – http://www.locksleynet.com/tag/rants/ ), so don't worry, everything is good. It's what blogs are for after all. :)

    (I'd say we're about 50:50 on this one though so I'll claim victory as it was 2 against 1) :-p

  4. TheOffender says:

    I'm not entirely sure how you mathematically justify a victory but then my maths isn't my strong point so I'll take you're word for it 8 ^ {/-}.

    Do me a favour though, when I purchase a tasty can of Diet Coke tomorrow, as I undoubtedly will, don't bring any of this up. In fact, from now on, we'll only discuss things neither of us know anything about – I think academics call it 'philosophy'.


  5. Well, I tried to cheat and use a calculator, but it must be broken. It keeps suggesting 50:50 = a draw. Damn.

    Ok, yeah, we won't discuss the effects of acidity or sugar in Diet Coke at work. Tomorrow's topic – Is there a god? Discuss.

    In fact, no no no. Philosophy sucks.

  6. Craig says:

    Craig Here. If coke erodes your teeth why have i had about six can a day my whole life and never had a filling or sensitive teeth.

  7. CEO of Coke says:

    Coke does not erode you teeth!!!!

  8. Hi there Craig (AKA Ceo of Coke). Thanks for the 2 comments.

    There is the general rule and there are the exceptions. I also drink Coke, other fizzy drinks, eat chocolate and drink beer – yet have never had any fillings or sensitive teeth. But then, I am 24 so there is still plenty of time for that to happen. It speeds up the process, it does not 'cause' anything.

  9. CEO of Steradent says:

    I agree – keep drinking my friend!!

  10. I have to agree with the author. Coke will rot your teeth. Sorry guys

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