When you think about good and bad things for your oral health, you probably think about things like candy and other sugary foods that can harm your teeth, or you may think about smoking, which can damage your gums, stain your teeth and increase your chances of oral cancer.
But do you think about what you are drinking? Several types of beverages can damage your teeth, and some of them are even portrayed as healthy!
We’ve come up with a list of the best and worst drinks for your oral health. You may be surprised about a few of our findings.
The Worst Drinks for Your Teeth
Soda. OK, you may not be super surprised that soda is one of the worst beverage choices you could make. Why? Well, soda is full of sugar and has a high acid content. These high sugar levels can feed the bacteria in dental plaque and contribute to tooth decay and cavities. In addition, high levels of acid can cause tooth enamel to erode, increasing tooth sensitivity and decay.
Another issue with sodas or other carbonated drinks is that they dry your mouth out. This is because they lower your saliva levels. This is bad for your dental health because saliva has a critical function in your mouth – it protects your tooth enamel and gums by washing away acid and food debris. It also washes away the bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay.
Note: Diet sodas are not any better for your teeth – they’re still high in acid, despite not having sugar.
Coffee. Do you rely on coffee each day to get you going? Many people do! But most people do not know that drinking coffee can be bad for your oral health. Just like soda, coffee is very high in acid and also erodes your tooth enamel. In addition, adding sugar to your coffee can exacerbate tooth decay and cavities.
Also, coffee can stain your teeth and dry your mouth out. Dry mouth can also increase your chances of developing cavities.
If you just can’t quit your coffee, you can minimize the damage coffee can cause by limiting how much you drink and by skipping the sugar or creamers high in sugar. You can also help reduce the acidity in coffee by adding milk to your cup. While iced coffee is yummy, it’s also high in acid and sugar because it often needs more sweetener to make it palatable.
Tea. Are you a tea fan? While hot teas are generally not bad for your oral health because they’re no necessarily acidic (pH is generally above 5.5), iced teas are usually acidic. Some hot teas, such as green teas, even contain polyphenols, which have been shown to help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. After you drink tea – hot or cold – we suggest that you drink plenty of water to help combat dry mouth.
Alcohol. Just like tea and coffee, alcohol can dry your mouth out because it is a diuretic. Diuretics can lead to dehydration of the mouth – and body – which means less saliva. And as we mentioned, less saliva means the potential for damage to your tooth enamel and increases the chance of tooth decay and greater tooth sensitivity.
Some types of alcohol, such as red wine, can also stain or discolor your teeth. But don’t reach for that white wine instead. You may be surprised to learn that white wine is more acidic than red and can put your teeth at even greater risk.
Sports drinks. A 2019 study by the University College of London found that despite having excellent overall health, athletes tended to have worse oral health than the general public because of the use of sports drinks and other sports-recovery products like sports gels. Why? Although advertised to help you recover, these products are high in acid and sugar. So, instead of reaching for a sports drink after a game, we suggest that you grab plain water and aim for at least half your body weight in ounces each day. So, if you weigh 160 pounds, try to drink 80 ounces.
Carbonated water. Club sodas and carbonated waters are growing in popularity among individuals who don’t want to drink soda but don’t love flat water, either. Unfortunately, these beverages tend to be highly acidic and can lead to enamel erosion. They can also cause dehydration of the mouth.
Fruit juices. The juice comes from fruit, so it should be good for you, right? Eh … While juice in moderation is fine, juices are high in sugar and acid, making you susceptible to weakened tooth enamel, sensitive teeth and gum health issues. So if you want to drink juice, we suggest you dilute it to reduce acid and sugar content.
Energy drinks. Do you consume energy drinks? Although these popular beverages can give you a boost, they also can bring about problems with your oral and overall health. This is because energy drinks are high in sugar and acid and are incredibly damaging to your teeth.
Best Drinks for Oral Health
Water. Water is one of the best drinks you can consume. It’s not only sugar-free and nonacidic, but it also doesn’t stain your teeth. Your body needs it for your overall health and survival. Plus, the more water you drink, the more hydrated you are and the more saliva you make, which means a better defense against bacteria and acids.
Milk. Milk is also a great drink option for your teeth and oral health because it’s full of calcium, which can help strengthen your teeth against tooth decay and acid erosion. That said, milk is full of sugar, so we recommend drinking plenty of water to rinse away the sugars that remain on teeth.
Do you see the signs of damage to your tooth enamel? Call us today to schedule a checkup.