Can Drinks Harm My Teeth?
Taking care of your teeth is simple once you get into the routine of doing so, but what many people don’t realize is that practicing good oral health requires more than brushing your teeth and flossing. Plenty of other factors play into our overall oral health, including our overall diet. The foods and beverages that we choose to put in our body can make a difference to our overall oral health, and some of the foods and beverages that we choose to enjoy may actually be causing us more harm than good. In this blog, Dr. Corpron, your South Austin Family Dentist, will look at a few beverages that are proven to be damaging to your teeth, and he will explain how limiting or removing them from your diet can be beneficial to you.
Let’s get the main offender out of the way first, shall we? This one should not come as a surprise to any of you, as the sugar content of most sodas is higher than you think. On average, a 12 oz can of soda contains roughly 40 grams of sugar. When reading the label, 40 grams doesn’t seem like that much, but when converted to teaspoons, the sugar content is staggering. Roughly four grams equal a teaspoon, so on average, one can of soda contains roughly ten teaspoons of sugar. As if that wasn’t enough, sodas contain high levels of acids that destroy enamel, and food coloring that easily stains your teeth. The acids and the sugars combine to demineralize the teeth, which eventually leads to tooth decay, better known as cavities. Needless to say, keeping your soda intake to a minimum is ideal, as the negative effects that drinking a lot of soda can have on your teeth are quite serious.
Coffee and Tea
Coffee and tea are a very common way for people to start their day, whether you make it at home or if you get it at the nearest coffee shop. The negative effects of both of these beverages is twofold. If you’re the type to not drink soda but enjoy a blended coffee drink from your local coffee shop, think again – the sugar content found in blended coffee drinks can be incredibly high as well. In a small blended coffee drink, you can sometimes find as much if not more sugar than what is found in a 12 oz can of soda. For that reason, if you do choose to drink coffee, opting to drink it black or with a lower amount of sugar will be in your best of interests.
The second type of damage that drinking coffee and tea can have on your teeth has to do with staining. The rule of thumb is that the darker the beverage, the higher the likelihood of your teeth being stained. Think of it like this: imagine your coffee and tea cups at home. Think about the ones that you’ve used for years, and then think about what the insides look like. Unless your coffee and tea cups at home are darker, chances are that they have a fair amount of staining in them. Even if you are diligent about washing dishes, few coffee and tea cups maintain their sparkling shine after regular use. Your teeth are the same way, and if you’re the sort of person that drinks coffee and tea regularly, your teeth are likely to suffer some amount of staining as a result. A good way to reduce your chance of tooth staining is to drink your beverage of choice through a straw, which limits the amount of coffee or tea that makes contact with your teeth. Additionally, if you choose to drink tea, opting for a lighter tea like a white or green tea will be more beneficial for your teeth than a black tea.
We’ve all see the carpet cleaner commercials where they try to show you the cleaning power and effectiveness of a product. They’ll usually show you a clean white carpet being stained by a pet, coffee, and, almost always, a spilled glass of red wine. Not unlike how coffee and tea can stain your mugs at home, red wine can also stain your teeth in a similar way. While white wine won’t stain your teeth nearly as much as red wine will, white wine is generally quite acidic.
I know, I know. It’s almost like there is nothing out there that you can drink that’s not harmful somehow to our teeth. Sadly, anything carbonated can cause harm to the teeth as well. We frequently see patients who have thin, smooth enamel with an almost halo-like effect on the front teeth. This is a common sign of drinking too many seltzer waters or carbonated beverages. While they don’t have lots of sugar in them, which in its own right is a good thing, they are very acidic. This is especially true of citrus flavored soda waters as the citric acid used to flavor makes them very acidic.
So what’s a person to do? Well, while some of these beverages can be more damaging than others, a great way to reduce their overall damaging effects (aside from cutting them out entirely) is to increase your overall water intake to prevent them from lingering in your mouth and on your teeth. Doing so will greatly cut down on the amount of staining and enamel damage that you will experience. Additionally, brushing your teeth two to three times a day will also help reduce these effects, as well as using a good mouthwash. However, wait around 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to brushing after eating or drinking anything acidic as this is the time during which your enamel is the softest after the acid has weakened it.
Those are just a few examples of beverages that can be harmful to your overall oral health. At Blue Sky Family Dentistry, as your South Austin Family Dentist we are committed to providing our patients with the knowledge they need to protect and improve their oral health. Should you experience problems like tooth pain or sensitivity associated with any of the drinks described above, Blue Sky Family Dentistry offers a full array of comprehensive family dental services. For more information about our Austin family dentistry practice, contact us today.