Daily brushing and flossing your teeth isn’t enough to guarantee oral health. What you eat and drink also matters. So, which drinks are damaging to your teeth? And what are some healthier choices?
What determines whether a drink is good or bad for your teeth?
1. Sugar levels
Sweetened drinks cause cavities because the sugar enhances the harmful bacteria in your mouth to produce acid. This acid attacks and erodes your tooth enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity and decay.
2. Acid levels
Some drinks contain high levels of acids that attack your tooth enamel and cause it to lose essential minerals. Enamel is the hard, thin outer layer of your teeth. Did you know that it’s the strongest material in your body – even stronger than your bones? But enamel isn’t a living cell and can’t naturally repair itself, so it’s essential to protect it. Acidic drinks can weaken enamel and cause long-term, permanent tooth erosion.
3. Drying effects
A good saliva flow protects your teeth against harmful bacteria, sugars, and acids. It cleans your mouth and provides minerals your tooth enamel needs. But some drinks cause your mouth to dehydrate.
4. pH value
Drinks with a low pH value contain a high concentration of acids, which can harm your teeth. Anything that measures 5.5 or less on the pH scale is considered acidic – the lower, the number the worse the drink. The acidity in these drinks softens tooth enamel, making teeth vulnerable to cavities and tooth decay.
Drinks with a pH value above 6.5 help strengthen your teeth.
The combination of acid and dyes in drinks breaks down your tooth’s enamel and causes stains and discoloration.
Drinks That Damage Your Teeth
1. Sugary drinks
The sugar in these drinks stimulates the harmful bacteria in your mouth to produce acids – which attack and erode your teeth enamel, causing decay and even tooth loss. A lot of sodas have dyes that stain and discolor your teeth.
2. Fruit juice
Fruit juices contain more acids and sugar than the actual fruits. That’s why the juices are more likely to cause tooth decay – especially if they’re made of acidic fruits or contain additives. Studies show that drinking orange juice frequently reduces the hardness of tooth enamel by almost 84%.
3. Coffee and tea
Frequently drinking coffee and black tea can stain your teeth. The dyes in these drinks can latch onto and build up on the enamel, causing stains and discoloration.
Saliva helps to water down and wash away the harmful acids produced by plaque. When you drink alcohol, your saliva production slows down – causing dehydration and a dry mouth, which contributes to plaque build-up.
All wines contain strong dyes that stain your teeth if you drink them often. Some people think white wine is a better choice because it doesn’t have dark dyes that stain your teeth, but it’s more acidic than red wine and can cause tooth decay.
Drinks That Don’t Damage Your Teeth
Drinking water does more than quench your thirst and keep you hydrated. It’s essential to keeping your body healthy and functioning properly. Water is also good for your teeth and gums because it keeps your mouth clean. It rinses away harmful bacteria and food debris to fight cavities and gum disease. Plaque can’t build up in a clean, hydrated mouth. Water is pH neutral, so it combats acidity in your mouth. And water that contains fluoride helps strengthen your teeth and protects tooth enamel.
Next to water, milk is the healthiest drink for your teeth. Milk contains healthy minerals that are essential to your teeth and gums. Calcium helps strengthen your teeth, prevents gum disease, and can reduce tooth decay. And milk doesn’t stain or discolor your teeth.
3. Green tea
Dark tea stains and discolors your teeth, but green tea is a healthy option. Green tea controls bacteria and lowers the acidity of saliva and dental plaque to prevent cavities and gum disease. It also stimulates saliva, which is essential for your teeth and oral health.
Tips to Protect Your Teeth
The good news is that you don’t have to give up all your favorite drinks! Here are some tips to help protect your teeth from damaging drinks.
- Use a straw when indulging in a sugary or acidic drink to limit its contact with your teeth.
- Drink water after other beverages to rinse your mouth.
- Brush your teeth before drinking dark-colored beverages so there’s less plaque for the staining agents to stick to.
- Brush and floss regularly.
- Visit your dentist for routine check-ups to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Reach out to Atkins & Anderson Dentistry for more tips about improving your oral health and for quality dental care in College Station, Texas. Call us to schedule an appointment or fill out the contact form today.
Read More: Tips to Keep Your Teeth Clean Between Dental Cleanings