How These 4 Common Beverages Affect the Teeth
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The drinks you consume can have a dramatic impact on your health, starting from the moment they enter your mouth. While the effect that beverages have on your teeth depends on many factors, it’s primarily determined by their overall acidity. Acidic drinks soften tooth enamel, which makes teeth sensitive and more susceptible to decay. Beverages that are high in both acid and sugar have the potential to be exceptionally damaging. Our team at Prescott Dentistry has put together this guide on how beverages affect the teeth.
Contrary to what you might assume, many dental experts agree that fruit juice is perhaps the most damaging beverage for your tooth enamel. One study determined that the effects of citrus juices on teeth are far worse than those of professional and over-the-counter whitening solutions, which contain 6% hydrogen peroxide. In this study, consumption of pure orange juice significantly compromised tooth enamel. While citrus juices are the worst, other fruit juices also contain extremely high levels of sugar, as well as acid.
Sparkling, Flavored Water
Within the past several years, sparkling, flavored waters have become a very popular alternative to soda, and the market for these beverages is booming. Because these drinks are just water infused with gas and flavoring, the average consumer would assume they are a safe and healthy choice. Recent studies, however, have found that these beverages contain a level of acidity that could actually be very harmful to tooth enamel. Some tests have even shown that sparkling flavored water beverages can cause enamel erosion to the same extent as or greater than pure orange juice! While opinions vary on this matter, it is wise to consume flavored sparkling water in moderation.
Regular soft drink consumption is one of the leading causes of tooth decay. The high levels of sugar in soda combines with natural mouth bacteria to create acid. This acid attacks your tooth enamel, causing decay. Unfortunately, diet sodas are no better because they also contain high levels of acid. The more regularly a person consumes soft drinks, the more regularly acid is sitting on the teeth, eating away at the enamel. Children and young adults are most susceptible to this type of tooth decay because their enamel has not fully developed. The best solution to this potential issue is prevention. Eliminate both regular and diet soft drinks from your diet, brush regularly, and make sure to schedule your 6-month dental cleanings.
Alcohol is destructive to tooth enamel, mainly because of its sugar content. It also creates an environment that makes teeth more susceptible to staining. Alcohol compromises the enamel, then chromogens (in darker beverages like cola mixers and red wine) attach to teeth, discoloring them. Additionally, because saliva is incredibly important to the health of your teeth, the mouth-drying effects of alcohol cause further damage to your teeth.
Now that you know more about how beverages affect the teeth, there are some things you can do to minimize the damage. We know that it’s not always realistic to completely avoid drinks that you love. So for drinks that are particularly acidic or sugary, using a straw will reduce the amount of contact they have with your teeth. And while it might seem counterintuitive, you should avoid brushing your teeth immediately after you drink any of these harmful beverages—brushing enamel that’s been softened by your beverage could actually cause more harm than good. Wait 30 minutes after drinking before brushing your teeth. Drinking water is also important! Check out our last post on the dental benefits of water!
To keep your smile healthy and beautiful for a lifetime, contact Prescott Dentistry to make an appointment with one of our caring holistic dentists.