VETERAN COLUMBUS DENTIST CHALLENGES CONVENTIONAL WISDOM
IN GROUNDBREAKING NEW BOOK ON FAMILY DENTAL CARE
WHAT EVERY PARENT SHOULD KNOW: THE HIDDEN THREAT TO HEALTHY
TEETH IS ACID, NOT SUGAR
(Columbus, Ohio – June 6, 2005) – Columbus dentist Jeff
Wilcox knew he was onto something when he started seeing the
same pattern in his patients’ X-rays.
“I can usually tell a pop drinker just by looking at their
x-rays,” he says. “Those people who have a lot of decay are
almost always heavy pop drinkers.”
It’s a pattern he’s seen so often, even among younger
patients with healthy oral care routines, that Dr. Wilcox
felt compelled to do something about it. Now, in his new
book, Acid Attack: The Real Causes of Dental Problems and
How to Avoid Them,” Wilcox draws on his 27 years of
experience as a Columbus dentist to challenge popular
notions about the origins and causes of tooth decay. His
observations will give parents and children a new
perspective on making their teeth last a lifetime.
Acid Attack is a candid and revealing discussion about a
personal health issue with important implications for
parents and children who recognize the value of preserving a
lifelong healthy smile. Its straightforward, no-nonsense
advice comes from an experienced Ohio dentist, with a
well-established and widely respected family practice in
In his book, Dr. Wilcox gives parents some valuable
information that will enable them to help themselves, and
their children, to have much better dental health. “I see my
primary role as a teacher. I educate parents so that they
can help their children (and themselves) to prevent dental
problems from happening in the first place. If I fix the
problems that are already there, but don’t teach you what to
do to prevent them from coming back, I haven’t helped you
very much.” When patients are armed with the right
information, they can take control of their own family’s
This being Wilcox’s first book, he wrote “Acid Attack,” to
give patients the insight, knowledge, and tools they need to
protect their teeth from the real cause of tooth decay:
consistent exposure to acidic substances, many of which come
from surprising and unexpected sources.
“Even as children, we’re conditioned to believe that sugar
is the main culprit in tooth decay,” Wilcox says. “It’s true
that sugar is bad for your teeth. But sugar is not the main
cause of tooth decay.
“The main culprit in tooth decay is acid. No question about
Dr. Wilcox explains that plaque germs eat what we eat.
“Every time you eat, you feed them, and one of their
by-products is acid,” he says.
“These germs are especially efficient at digesting sugars,
and this is what researchers based their conclusions on
decades ago. They observed that the acid levels in your
mouth went up more when you consume sugars than when you
consume other things. What they didn’t realize is that these
acids are not the ones that are primarily the cause of
So where do the most destructive acids come from? Dr. Wilcox
points a critical finger not just at regular and diet soft
drinks, but also popular sports or “energy drinks”. Even
citrus juices, he says, can pack a punch against tooth
enamel. The other primary source, especially popular with
children, is sour candies.
He’s not alone. A recent study by the University of Maryland
Dental School, the results of which were published in the
March, 2005 issue of General Dentistry, found that such
energy drinks are even more destructive to tooth enamel than
your run-of-the-mill sugary colas. Some studies cite damage
from long-term acid exposure in the teeth of some children
as young as 14. Clear pops were among the worst offenders.
(See attached article)
Before you go reaching for that diet cola, take heed. Diet
colas don’t get much slack from Dr. Wilcox either. “Sugar
free doesn’t mean better for your teeth,” he admits. “It’s
the corrosive effects of the acids in these beverages that
are much more detrimental to a healthy smile than their
But the acids that erode our teeth don’t just come from
outside our bodies, Wilcox says. It can come from inside our
“Some people have body chemistries that make their saliva
naturally more acidic. This makes them more prone to tooth
decay, even though most people with this condition may not
even be aware of it.”
Other internal sources of acid, he says, include acid reflux
disease and bulimia. In both cases, the teeth are repeatedly
exposed to the natural, but highly corrosive, hydrochloric
acid found naturally in our stomachs.
So what can parents and children do to protect their teeth
from these threats? Dr. Wilcox says effective prevention
begins with solid information, and then applying that
information in ways that promote healthy and consistent
dental care habits.
Some advice and practices Dr. Wilcox recommends are:
• Chewing gum: “It promotes the production of saliva, which
neutralizes acid.” He cautions that you should avoid the
sour kinds (they have high levels of acid in them.)
• Avoiding pop of any kind and so-called “energy drinks”.
• Using an electric toothbrush. “Much more efficient than
manual brushing,” Wilcox admits.
• Drinking fluoridated water during childhood. “When teeth
are forming, fluoride makes the tooth enamel more resistant
to acid corrosion.”
The other problem Dr. Wilcox sees, even in very young
children, is gum disease. Many of us ignore a bit of
bleeding when we brush or floss, but it’s a warning sign.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that bleeding is normal – it’s
not.” For adults, flossing (under the gums – not just
between the teeth) is critical to keep gums healthy. For
children, the most important thing is removing the plaque
germs efficiently. For this, Dr. Wilcox strongly recommends
an electric toothbrush. “Brushing for a few minutes twice a
day (morning and right before bed) with an electric brush
will do wonders for kids’ dental health,” he says.
Besides insights on acid and tooth decay, Acid Attack
ventures into a host of other dental health subjects, many
of which patients may have always wondered about, but never
bothered to ask. They include insights and advice on root
canals, crowns (caps), tooth bleaching, night grinding,
wisdom teeth, dental implants and insights into the
controversy over silver fillings (amalgam) versus composite
In short, Acid Attack is the informative conversation that
you always wish you’d had with your own dentist, but never
had the time for.
“Acid Attack: The Real Causes of Dental Problems and How to
Avoid Them” by Jeff Wilcox, D.D.S. Vantage Press, New York,
2004 (56pp), is available in paperback at Barnes and Noble,
Amazon.com, and http://www.acidattack.com.