We’ve heard all about foods that are good or bad for our teeth. Fruits and vegetables, foods high in protein, and low-sugar foods help reduce tooth decay, along with vigilant brushing and flossing. But what about the things you drink? Are sodas as bad as you’ve heard? Does milk really do your teeth good? The fact is, drinks can be just as good (or bad) for your teeth as food. So what is best for you, and what should you avoid? Endicott Dental has the answers!
The Best Drinks for Your Teeth
Several types of drinks can harm your teeth, but others can be very beneficial.
When it comes to healthy drinks for your teeth, you just can’t beat water. In fact, it’s the best for your overall health. Our bodies are mostly made up of water, so when those levels drop to the point of dehydration, we can feel fatigued, weak, and less able to focus.
Water is just as important for your teeth as it is for the rest of your body. While bottled water is OK, tap water is better. Most cities and communities add fluoride to their tap water, which provides extra protection for the enamel on your teeth. Bottled water usually filters out all the good stuff, from fluoride to other natural minerals in the water. Some bottled water includes its own minerals and electrolytes, but why pay for it when you can get it free from the tap? Also, watch out for the “flavored” waters — they may contain added sugar from the flavoring, which can harm your teeth.
Water also keeps your lips, gums, and tongue most, keeping them healthy. In addition, water cleanses your mouth from bacteria, food particles, and sugars that may stick to your teeth. This helps reduce tooth decay. So if you want a healthy drink for your teeth, just grab a glass and open the tap for some healthy, cleansing water!
There are a lot of pros to drinking milk, but also a few cons. The biggest pro to milk is that it’s loaded with great vitamins, minerals, and protein that can build and strengthen your teeth and bums. The calcium and phosphorus found in milk help make your enamel strong. Milk enhanced with vitamin D is great because vitamin D helps you to absorb calcium and phosphorus and strengthens your gums. Casein, a protein found in milk, also helps fight tooth decay.
The con of drinking milk is that it has natural sugars. Those sugars can build up on your teeth, so it’s not a bad idea to brush after drinking milk. But the vitamins, minerals, and proteins you get from milk outweigh the cons of natural sugars.
If you’re lactose intolerant, no worries! Lactose-free milk and almond milk with calcium added will give you the same health benefits without lactose.
Teas are sort of a mixed bag when it comes to oral health. Some teas are better than others, though all have some merits. Green, white, and black teas have antioxidants that can reduce gum inflammation and fight bacteria that linger on your teeth. White tea has fluoride to strengthen your enamel. White tea also won’t stain your teeth. Green tea has a bit of color to it and could stain your teeth over time, but it would be a long time.
On the other hand, black tea tends to be much darker and will stain your teeth over time much faster than green tea. This is all assuming you drink these teas straight. Suppose you add sugar, honey, lemon, or flavor enhancers. In that case, you are adding ingredients that could damage your teeth and reduce the effectiveness of the antioxidants by increasing your chances of tooth decay. Yes, unfortunately, that includes sweet tea.
The Worst Drinks for Your Teeth
Some drinks have a few benefits but a lot more detriments to them, which is why you should drink them in moderation and floss and brush afterward. We’ve already covered tea with additives such as sugar, honey, or flavor enhancers. Now, here are drinks that are as bad or worse for your teeth.
Soft Drinks (Sodas)
Tops on this list are soft drinks. Regular sodas, diet sodas, clear sodas — it doesn’t matter. Sodas, in general, are very unhealthy, have no significant nutritional value, and have lots and lots of sugar. Even sugar-free drinks are bad because the sugar substitute is often as bad or worse than sugar. The acids and sugars in sodas can damage your enamel and cause tooth decay. Sodas have been linked to other health issues, from bloating to intestinal irritation to obesity. So if you must have soda, strictly limit your intake and brush your teeth afterward.
You may think sports drinks are great because they have lots of electrolytes. That’s true, but they also usually have a TON of sugar. The sugar is used to give you an energy burst, but it also coats your teeth with sugar. This can lead to tooth decay. Like soft drinks, sugar-free sports drinks aren’t much better than sugary ones because of the acids from the sugar substitute. As with sodas, it’s best to limit your intake of sports drinks and brush and floss afterward.
You may think black coffee is OK because it doesn’t have added sugar. While it doesn’t have sugar, coffee does have natural acids that will weaken your enamel. Black coffee will also stain your teeth over time. Adding things like cream, sugar, flavorings, or whipped cream increases the risk to your enamel and your chances of tooth decay. It’s best to limit your coffee intake and brush your teeth after consuming it.
Studies go back and forth about the health benefits of a glass of wine, particularly to your heart. One thing is for certain, though — wine isn’t good for your teeth. Wine has sugars and acids that will damage your enamel over time. Red wines, pink wines, and fruit wines will also stain your teeth over time.
Fruit drinks and fruit juices are loaded with sugar. LOADED. That sugar can linger on your teeth and cause tooth decay. Certain fruits also contain acids, and those acids can be found in fruit drinks and juices as well. Your teeth will need a good brushing after drinking these.
Best or Worst, Floss and Brush!
Whether you drink milk, coffee, or fruit juice, you’ll want to floss and brush afterward. Brushing will remove any sugars and acids left on your teeth by these beverages. That’s why it’s best to limit such beverages to mealtimes and to brush after every meal. Between meals, stick to water to keep your teeth strong and healthy.
If you’re unsure about whether your favorite beverage is good for your teeth, you can contact us if you’re in the Broken Arrow, OK, area. The team at Endicott Dental cares about you and your oral health.