Coffee, tea, soda, diet soda, wine, orange juice, milk – they’re beverages we have grown to know, enjoy, and even crave. Sometimes we feel the need to justify why we MUST go through the drive-thru at Dunkin Donuts for coffee; scientific studies showing the healthy benefits of caffeine then come to our aid.
Rarely, however, do we think about the oral health benefits and affects of beverages. This is why I’m writing to you. Sure, it’s pretty clear that over time drinking coffee will stain our teeth, but here are some tips that may guide you as you are sipping away.
1.) Rinse your mouth out (with water) – When you’ve consumed a highly pigmented drink like coffee, rinse your mouth out with water after drinking it. The swooshing action of the water will reduce the amount of time the coffee remains on your teeth.
2.) Be aware of acidic drinks. It may be our tendency to want to brush right after drinking soda (often producing a horrible taste) but that can actually be MORE harmful to your teeth. The rule of thumb is to rinse out with water after having soda and acidic juices like orange juice, grapefruit juice, or wine, wait an hour or so, and then brush. Brushing immediately after drinking these can actually spread the acid all over your teeth. Acid in the mouth can cause cavities and pitting on the surface of our teeth. It can also eat away at our enamel.
3.) Straws are not just for kids. Straws are actually a great tool to help our teeth. They allow the acidity from juices and colas to by-pass the front of our mouth. Plus it’s fun!
4.) Avoid sipping all day long. Drinking at mealtime, as opposed to sipping throughout the day, will help us limit exposure of acid and sugars on our teeth. If you’ll be drinking, do it in a shorter period of time. Children should be encouraged to drink at mealtime also – carrying around a sippy cup and drinking from it sporadically can be harmful to children’s teeth. Water is the only exception to this “rule.” In fact, fluoride from the local drinking water supply is something that can help protect your teeth from decay.
5.) It’s only milk– Milk is touted for building healthy bones, but it also has lots of sugar! Ever wondered how a toddler could have cavities? Constant sipping of milk could be one of the reasons why. Again, it’s about limiting the amount of time sugars and acids are on our teeth. Brushing or wiping a child’s gums and teeth after drinking milk is a great way to help them fight cavities.
6.) White wine can actually hurt our teeth more than red wine! White wine acts as an abrasive on our teeth due to its acidity, so drinking red wine after white wine may produce greater staining than red wine alone. If you must drink white wine before red wine, rinse out your mouth first. Also avoid drinking any dark drink after white wine.
7.) Here’s the good news – Green tea can help fight cavities – studies have shown that green and white tea contains ingredients that kill the same bacteria and acids that create plaque.
If you have any additional dental news you’ve read or heard about, please pass it along to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for reading these drinking tips. Your smile will thank you. It was Phyllis Diller that said, and I completely agree with her, “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”