Healthy Drink Options for Healthy Teeth

Our teeth’ enamel is the strongest material in our body, but it isn’t indestructible. Some of our favorite beverages are very high in acid content, and acidity damages our enamel. Once enamel is damaged, it can’t self-repair or regenerate, meaning you’ll need the help of a dentist to repair your enamel to protect your teeth.

 

Your favorite beverage might be destroying your enamel.
Drinks with a high pH can cause a number of problems for your oral health, but those problems mainly stem from the fact that acidity eats away at the hardest, outer layer of your teeth – your enamel. Tooth enamel doesn’t contain any living cells, so once it erodes it doesn’t come back.
Enamel protects the soft inner layers of the tooth. When enamel erodes and teeth start to yellow, it’s because the sensitive, yellow-colored dentin underneath has become exposed. Exposed dentin is not only a cosmetic issue, but it can lead to painful dental issues like tooth sensitivity. If you’ve ever flinched from biting into something too hot, too cold, or consuming sweet, acidic, or spicy, then you may have experienced tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity can have a big impact on your diet and overall enjoyment of food and beverages.

Acidic drinks can also discolor your teeth, increase your risk of cavities, or in extreme cases, cause abscesses or loss of teeth!

 

Sugar-free, carbonated, coffee? What drinks are bad for your teeth?
Any flavor or type of drink can be acidic, and it might actually surprise you to find out which acidic drinks are the toughest on your teeth! Sugar-free sodas may be better for your overall health, but they still contain acid and carbonation. Carbonation will raise any drink’s overall acidity, so anything bubbly will be more harmful to your dental health over time.

 

Common Acidic Drinks
· Soda
· Diet Soda
· Tea
· Carbonated drinks
· Citrus Juices
· Alcohol (especially wine)
· Kombucha
· Sports Drinks

 

What are the most acidic juices?
Did you know that lemon and lime juice have comparable acidity to battery acid? Think about the impact on your teeth! The most acidic fruit juices include lemon, cranberry, orange, and apple. Daily citrus juices may be encouraged as a way to get a healthy dose of Vitamin C, but they’re also packed with tooth-damaging acids.

 

Can fruit juice harm your child’s teeth?
Nutritionists agree that juice is a better alternative than sodas, especially for developing children. However, juices contain high levels of sugar and acid as well. Drinking juice three times a day can potentially be worse for your teeth than some soft drinks. Apple juice, lemonade, and orange juice are the highest acid juices and react with bacteria already in the mouth and the sugar from the juices to cause lesions and erode at enamel.

Every time a child takes a sip of juice, the acid starts attacking their teeth for up to 20 minutes. Every sip equals another 20 minutes of acid attacks!

 

Tips for Limiting Acidic Drinks with Children
· Encourage the child to drink the juice all at once, rather than sipping. Instead of the overall consumption of juice, it’s the contact of the juice with the teeth that really causes an impact. Limit your child’s contact with juice’s sugar and acids by encouraging them to quickly finish their juice, or to only give juice during a meal.
· Opt for whole fruit juices. Tropicana, Minute Maid, and Capri Suns all contain a lot of additives and additional sugars. Whole, natural fruit juices are better for your child’s teeth and overall health.
· Use a straw. We recommend straws to adults as well! Straws are an easy solution we can all use for decreasing the contact of acidic drinks with our teeth. We don’t want to let acidic or sugary drinks swish around or immerse our teeth.
· Avoid giving fruit juices at night and right before bed. When we sleep, our saliva production slows. Don’t leave your child’s teeth defenseless! Give water at night, and ensure your children have brushed their teeth before bedtime.
· Rinse teeth before brushing. When acidity launches its attack against teeth, you don’t want to brush them right away – that can actually cause more harm to your enamel than drinking the juice! Rinse your mouth out with water to wash juice residue away before beginning to brush.

 

Low Acidity Alternatives
· Tap Water
· Black Tea
· Green tea
· Black Coffee
· Milk
· Coconut Milk

Drinks that contain lower levels of sugar and carbonation are going to be better options for your teeth, like black coffee or green tea. However, restricting your consumption of acidic drinks is the best option for your teeth.
Talk to your team at South Charlotte Dentistry about acidity + your teeth.

Any drink with acidity will erode your teeth over time. You can lower the amount of damage done by either eliminating acidic drinks from your diet, use straws when drinking, or moderate your consumption. Build healthy habits by drinking more water; small changes to your diet will have lasting effects on your dental health. Your dentist and team at South Charlotte Dentistry can provide more insight into tooth erosion, and help you create dental lifestyle changes that will give you a beautiful smile for life!

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