Food isn’t the only thing that affects your teeth sugary treats are bad, but sugary drinks can be even more damaging to your smile! This is especially true when we drink over prolonged periods of time. Sipping on the wrong types of drinks throughout the day exposes our teeth and gums to acids and sugar that can lead to overproduction of bad bacteria, which can cause bad breath, cavities, and even gum disease.
Your teeth need to last you for life. While drinking enough fluids is essential to maintaining a healthy amount of saliva in your mouth and protecting your teeth, the wrong kinds of fluids can harm your teeth and lead to enamel erosion and tooth decay, which can cause tooth sensitivity.
What are the top six worst drinks for your teeth and why?
Soda not only tends to be full of sugar, but is also very acidic. The sugar in soda creates an acidic environment in your mouth when it mixes with your oral bacteria. Unfortunately, soda is an extremely popular drink that kids and adults of all ages enjoy. While the occasional soda likely won’t affect your smile too much, drinking soda frequently can really damage your teeth.
Soda harms your teeth by attacking your tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is a strong substance, but it is also porous. When the bacteria in your mouth consume the sugar from soda, they secrete acid that can erode parts of the enamel . Loss of tooth enamel can lead to sensitive teeth, increased risk for tooth decay and tooth fractures. Your teeth may even become discolored over time. Research shows that soda is extremely corrosive to tooth enamel.
Unfortunately, diet sodas don’t make a difference when it comes to your teeth. Even though they don’t contain natural sugar, diet sodas are still acidic and corrosive to your teeth. So next time you reach for a soda, remember that it’s one of the top drinks that can harm your smile!
Replace with: You can replace soda with seltzer water, flavored seltzer water (as long as the flavoring doesn’t contain sugar), kombucha, or homemade soda with carbonated water and your own flavorings!
Alcohol can be very corrosive to your teeth as well, especially when you expose your teeth to this beverage for long periods of time. When you combine alcohol with sugar, such as soda or syrup for mixed drinks, you’re giving your teeth a double punch sugar and corrosive alcohol all in one drink!
Alcohol can also damage your smile by dehydrating you, making saliva production decrease and thus resulting in a dry mouth. This increases the buildup of plaque on your teeth and around your gumline. Alcohol is also a big risk factor when it comes to oral cancer in fact, it’s the second biggest risk factor for developing oral cancer.
Alcohol in moderation is generally not harmful to your smile, providing you brush after an evening of drinking and always sip water to stay hydrated!
Replace with: Flavored water, rooibos tea, or tart pure fruit juices such as pomegranate or cranberry.
- Sports Drinks
Although sports drinks are marketed to be healthy and to rehydrate your body, many of these drinks are full of sugar and sodium. Electrolyte replacement often isn’t necessary unless you’re conducting an intense workout where you sweat a lot. These drinks have been marketed to youth and athletes in particular.
Because of the acidity of sports drinks, they tend to be awful for your teeth. Consuming these drinks while exercising can be even more dangerous for your smile because of mouth breathing. Many people who exercise tend to breathe through their mouths, which dries out the mouth very quickly. Athletes also tend to sip drinks rather than gulp them meaning your mouth has even more exposure over time to these sugary and acidic fluids. In fact a recent study has shown that our Olympic athletes, partly due to the risk factors we have just discussed, have on average worse oral health then the general population!
Your mouth was meant to be bathed in saliva, which protects your teeth and gums from harmful bacteria. This is why dry mouth is so harmful to teeth. When athletes sip on sports drinks and breathe through their mouths, they are creating an environment that’s ideal for tooth decay. Research shows that the popular sports drink Gatorade causes the most enamel damage, even when compared to energy drinks and soda!
Replace with: Water, coconut water, or natural energy drinks with a pinch of sea salt.
- Fruit Juice
Although fruit in itself generally isn’t harmful to your teeth (certain fruits are more harmful than others), fruit juice is fruit stripped of its fiber and is in a condensed version which is essentially sugar to your body.
This condensed version also has a concentrated citric acid content, exposing your mouth to greater levels of this harmful acid. Studies show lemon juice is the most harmful to teeth, while grapefruit juice and orange juice follow closely behind.
Fruit juice and citric acid harms your teeth by essentially softening your enamel and making it easier to strip away especially in the form of brushing. If you do consume citric acid in the form of citrus fruits or fruit juice, always try to wait about 30 minutes before brushing your teeth in order to help protect your enamel.
Fruit juices also frequently have sugar added to them in addition to the natural sugars they already contain. Are juices without added sugar better? Unfortunately, no. These drinks still contain high amounts of natural sugars from the fruit and are very acidic for your teeth.
Replace with: Water, tea, coconut water, or fresh vegetable juice.
On top of being acidic, coffee can also stain your enamel. Depending on the severity of the stain, it can generally be removed with a professional cleaning. However, some stains go deep and may not be able to be removed without a bleaching treatment. Drinking coffee with sugar can be even worse the acidity and the sugar content of coffee can cause enamel erosion.
Furthermore, coffee harms your teeth by dehydrating you, just like alcohol, and producing acids that can be harmful to enamel. Let’s not forget that coffee can cause bad breath due to dry mouth and increased bad oral bacteria. Drinking coffee in moderation can still stain your smile, but when you get regular cleanings with your dentist in Asheville, you can help prevent the buildup of surface stains!
Replace with: Tea such as peppermint and licorice herbal teas, smoothies, water, or chai tea.
- Energy Drinks
Energy drinks typically contain coffee and sugar, but they also tend to be high in citric acid, which is something of an expert at damaging tooth enamel, according to research. It lowers the pH levels of the mouth, which means your saliva has to work harder to try and neutralize the acids to protect your teeth. More science is showing that energy drinks can be even worse than sports drinks or sodas when it comes to tooth enamel!
Since energy drinks can be so corrosive, it’s best to wait about an hour after consuming them before brushing your teeth.
Replace with: Milk, non-dairy milk, water, or a smoothie.
Drinking is essential to keep our bodies hydrated and keep our mouths healthy but not all fluids are created equal! To protect your smile from enamel erosion, cavities, sensitive teeth, and gum disease, avoid these six worst drinks for your teeth and keep water as your best option. Water rehydrates you, has no effect on tooth enamel, and can even help you have fresher breath!
Book an appointment with dentist for a complete dental check up and teeth cleaning. Call (828) 277-6060 now!