It’s hot outside, you’re thirsty, you feel exhausted and want to replace some of your lost fluids, will you reach for a sugary drink or something healthier? For many of us, the idea of a sugary drink that is cold and refreshing, seems perfect. After all, you can see all the summertime promotions and specials for sweetened icy drinks.
Dental Effects of Sugary Drinks
While it is easiest to jump on our first impulse, taking a look at the dental effects of a sweetened choice, can help us make a healthier decision.
Many of the bad bacteria that live in our mouth, rely on interactions with sugar to survive. When these bacteria come into contact with sugar, one of the byproducts of this interaction, is the production of acids. It is these acids that produce dental decay, commonly referred to as a cavity.
One sugary drink per day will not put you at a high risk of developing cavities, but multiple drinks definitely will. When we consume sugary foods often, the pH level in our mouth, drops to levels that are hazardous to our teeth. Consuming sugary drinks or foods throughout the day can keep the pH level in our mouth at hazardous levels for longer periods of time. This increases the risk of developing cavities.
If you must consume sugary foods or drinks, try to have them during a meal. When you consume them during a meal
Thick drinks, such as a smoothie or slushie, can linger in the mouth and stay between teeth. This increases the risk of developing cavities and can increase the risk of acidic wear on teeth, due to contact with the teeth for a long duration.
Drinks that flow easily, such as lemonade or orange juice without pulp, stay in the mouth for a shorter period of time. These types of drinks do not make contact with teeth for as long as the thicker drinks. While there is still a risk of acid wear and an increased chance of developing cavities, the risk is less than with thicker drinks.
How Can I Protect My Teeth?
When consuming drinks, especially those that are sugary or acidic in nature, using a straw is very helpful. The straw will allow the liquid to bypass the teeth, so you can enjoy your drink without worrying.
Avoiding chewing while drinking will also help to protect your teeth. Some people like to chew on ice or chew on ingredients in the drink, such as fruit pulp or tapioca balls. These can become stuck in the grooves of the teeth and increase the risk of cavities, if they are not properly removed. Chewing ice can increase the risk of tooth chips or fractures.
When having acidic or sugary drinks, it is best to rinse or flush your mouth out thoroughly with water afterwards. It is not recommended to brush your teeth after acidic drinks. The acid in the drinks can weaken the enamel when they make contact with the tooth. If you brush right after the drink, the weakened enamel will be prone to being eroded away when brushing.
Summer is a great time to have cool and refreshing drinks. Keep the above tips in mind when selecting your next drink to keep your teeth happy as well!
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