We all have our favorite go-to snacks, comfort foods, and beverages we drink on a weekly or daily basis. Unfortunately, many of the most popular choices have nasty side effects on your oral health. Learn what causes enamel damage and staining, and you’ll be better equipped with the knowledge to prevent a negative impact on your smile! If you’ve already sustained damage to the aesthetics of your smile, visit Dr. Abbey Lee for a Grant Park smile makeover. We can help you make your smile look great again!
Most Americans list one of the following beverages as a favorite. If you drink any of the following on a daily basis, pay attention to the ways you can mitigate damage to your smile.
Sodas – Most flavored, sweetened carbonated beverages pack a double dose of trouble: sugar and acids. Different sodas have different pH levels, but all of them fall on the side of “too acidic to be good for your teeth.” This can lead to enamel erosion if you drink them regularly. While the acids eat away at your enamel, the sugar feeds mouth bacteria, which excrete bacterial acids that cause cavities. That’s why excessive soda consumption can do some devastating damage. (Image-search “mountain dew mouth” if you’re feeling brave.) The solution? Limit how many sodas you drink, drink with a straw, and rinse the mouth with water or chew sugarless gum after consuming.
Coffee – Coffee is lower in acids than sodas, but still higher than what is healthy for your teeth. This means it can, indeed, contribute to weakening your tooth enamel. If you take your coffee sweetened with sugar, then it’s also feeding mouth bacteria, which can cause cavities. Coffee contributes to pigment staining, which can leave your teeth looking yellow. (Ever used a coffee mug several times without washing it? Those dark stains also stay on your teeth.) How to lessen the damage? If you take your coffee with milk, cream, or non-dairy creamer, you are already neutralizing its acid content.
Iced Tea and Hot Black Tea – If you love Earl Grey, Chai tea, or sweet tea, you may be staining your teeth worse than if you were drinking coffee. Any sugar you add will contribute to cavities. If you drink sweetened black teas, drinking from a straw or chewing sugarless gum afterwards may help prevent staining and encourage saliva to rinse the sugars from the teeth.
Orange Juice and Lemonade – Drinking fruit juice may seem a healthier choice than sodas, but drinks like lemonade and orange juice can be worse for your teeth. They are far more acidic than most sodas and contain close to the same sugar content. To reduce the potential for enamel damage, drink them through a straw, and rinse the mouth with water afterward.
Wine, Beer, and Spirits – It may seem like dark-colored red wine is the worst alcoholic beverage for staining your teeth, but the truth is that all alcohol contains acids that erode enamel and make your teeth more susceptible to staining. Beer is high in carbohydrates, which feed mouth bacteria as badly as sugary sweet sodas.
The worst part about drinking alcohol, however, is the fact that it dries out the mouth. This can make you more susceptible to cavities, gum disease, and oral sores and lesions. If you drink alcohol, consume plenty of water between drinks, and think about having some cheese beforehand. Cheese can create a temporary waxy coating on the teeth that helps protect them from alcohol’s acid content.
Green Tea – Here’s the positive surprise on this list: green tea is not just harmless to your oral health, but actually beneficial. Green tea is not acidic and has been clinically proven to have a beneficial effect on preventing gum disease and maintaining good oral health. If you already drink green tea, make sure you brew your own, try to avoid adding sugar—and give yourself a pat on the back for making such a good choice!
The best beverage for regular consumption is, of course, plain water. Even unsweetened carbonated waters are better than most of the drinks listed above. Limiting how many non-water beverages you drink in a day can have a tremendous impact on keeping your tooth enamel strong and preventing stains and cavities.
If you consume more than two of any of the harmful drinks listed above, you may want to visit Smiles 4 Grant Park to have your smile checked out. Dr. Lee provides enamel strengthening fluoride treatments, checks for enamel erosion and cavities, and provides Grant Park smile makeovers. There are many techniques for improving your smile’s appearance, many of which are fast, easy, and affordable!
Visit our office for routine care and Grant Park smile makeover consultations. Contact us online or call 404-328-7177 to make an appointment.