Most of my Internet searches are of the positive nature — better organization, improved patient education, productive work habits, etc. Each weekday starts at 5:30 a.m. with the goal of finding one good, happy, or thought-provoking discovery to share with those I meet. All this positive web energy changed this week when my employer asked me to locate a chart with the pH of sodas and sour candies. Suddenly, I was drowning in search results focused on things that are bad for our bodies and mind — a sad, yet interesting and educating opportunity.
During my soda drink pH quest, one of the most interesting pages wasn’t authored by a dental hygienist, dentist, or even nutritionist. Marshal N. was 12 years old in 2004 when he undertook his study of the harmful side of lowering your oral pH. Not only does he give the pH ranges for a few drinks, his presentation goes on to explain why drinking soda is damaging to the human body. Send teenage patients and parents who need help talking to their children about bad habits to: www.selah.k12.wa.us/SOAR/SciProj2005/MarshalN.html. Don’t stop at the conclusion of his presentation; go on to read his report. Marshal discusses things such as minerals, acid, and bones along with delving slightly into the business side of soda consumption.
Several good sites are dedicated to the pH and ill effects of drinking soda. By sorting the lists of a couple of different pages, I was able to create a nifty sheet for my office. Quitting Soda: The Pro-Health, Anti-Soda blog at quittingsoda.com/post/the-acidity-ph-of-soda-pop has an adequate and simple listing almost anyone can follow and understand.
Perhaps the most complete record of drinks and their pH is found at 21st Century Dental. At www.21stcenturydental.com/smith/pH_drinks.htm, not only will you find acid levels but also grams of sugar, caffeine, and calories. Everything you need to help those you treat make better and informed decisions.
I am not suggesting any of us do not know that soda and a pH below 7.0 can be harmful to the oral cavity; the above information is more review and share-worthy than breaking news. Yet my search for harmful drinks led me to other unsuspecting culprits in decreasing overall health.
For example, did you know your shower curtain might be contaminating your lungs? Not from the mold or mildew that can grow over time, but fresh out of the package PVC (polyvinyl chlorine) curtains and liners can release toxic chemicals for up to a month. According to one study summarized at foodconsumer.org/7777/8888/M_edicare_54/061612032008_PVC_shower_curtains_harmful_to_your_health_printer.shtml, PVC curtains released VOCs (volatile organic compounds) at levels 16 times higher than the recommended guidelines for indoor air quality. Not everyone agrees with the research but there are plenty of opinions to read and make your own informed decision. No more new curtain smell for my guest bath.
In dentistry, the biggest controversy of harmful or not harmful is the fluoridation of water supplies. My search for food and drink pH somehow returned results on water fluoridation, and the discussion has occupied weekly staff meetings for weeks. I have been accused of being “anti-fluoride,” a label that is unwarranted and grossly untrue. Yet on the topic of water system fluoridation, my mind remains open to all research, papers, and opinions. It is truly one topic where I have no stance for or against. The paper raising most of the questions in my circle is found at www.fluoride-journal.com/98-31-2/312103.htm and titled, “Why I Changed My Mind About Water Fluoridation.”
In this report, John Colquhoun presents valid arguments for his belief that water fluoridation is unnecessary at best and toxic at worst. He does not sensationalize the matter too much and does provide 73 references — though many of these resources are also authored by him. Dr. Lawrence Wilson presents some recent and less “scary” findings on his page at www.drlwilson.com/Articles/fluoridation.htm, a site also worth your time to ponder. There is no requirement to take his information at face value or even support his findings, but ignoring his input altogether is a disservice to our own cognitive exercise and duty to consider the hypothesis presented.
Countering the claims of John Colquhoun specifically, Drs. Ernest Newbrum and Herschel Horowitz provide a topic-by-topic response at www.dentalwatch.org/fl/newbrun.html. This response takes on the validity of studies as well as the possible bias of Mr. Colquhoun in an effort to discredit his conclusions about the harmful effects of water fluoridation. It is thought-provoking reading that we, as health-care professionals, should not only read but also openly discuss.
Seeking positive energy and thoughts can be a great way to start your day. The practice has even been touted as improving health, mental outlook, and problem-solving abilities. I suggest a good dose of positive input on a regular basis — but not to the point of excluding and ignoring opinions and information we find uncomfortable, negative, or even outright wrong. Putting on the scientist hat occasionally can only bring enlightened discourse and lively discussion. Or, as we call it at our house — organized arguing.
Lory Laughter, RDH, BS, practices clinically in Napa, Calif. She is owner of Dental IQ, a business responsible for the Annual Napa Dental Experience. Lory combines her love for travel with speaking nationally on a variety of topics.