Although it may come as a surprise, the drinks we consume have a great impact on our oral health. You already know that some foods should only be eaten in moderation if you want to protect your teeth. The same applies to drinks, and the worst ones for your teeth are those with high acidity levels.
You might wonder what you can do to prevent acidic damage to your teeth. The first step, obviously, is to cut down on acidic drinks. As for the damage that’s already done, some of it will take a bit of time and dedication, but there are also issues that can be fixed immediately. For instance, the discoloration can be fixed with teeth whitening, a safe and painless procedure that will help you get the beautiful, bright smile back.
How Do Drinks Affect Your Teeth?
Your teeth have an outer layer called enamel, which serves as their protection. The simplest way to think about it is that enamel is like insulation for the teeth, protecting them from erosion, painful exposure to different temperatures, and chemicals. But even though it is a strong outer layer, enamel can still be worn down. And as mentioned above, the worst drinks for your teeth are acidic ones. A drink’s acidity level is measured by a pH scale, and any pH level below 5.5 is considered bad for your teeth.
Consuming beverages with such acidic pH levels weakens the teeth’s protective layer, and that could lead to:
- tooth sensitivity
- loss of teeth (in the most difficult of cases)
Since enamel isn’t a living cell, it doesn’t naturally repair itself like skin, for example. For this reason, it’s important to take proper care of your teeth and prevent any further damage.
You probably already know that liquids like soda and alcoholic drinks are full of sugars and therefore harmful for your teeth, as well as overall health. But you’ll be surprised to know that many of the healthier drinks are also highly acidic and should be used in moderation.
This graphic about the level of acidity of some of the most popular drinks is a useful reminder. For more information, here is our list of the worst drinks for your teeth, as well as some tips for protection.
Whether you are team Pepsi or team Coke, this drink is bad news for your teeth. It contains both of the most harmful things for our teeth: sugar and acid. Its sugar content alone is enough for tooth decay but combined with acid it also weakens tooth enamel, which only leads to more problems. Most cola drinks have an acidity level of 2.5, and not even diet cola could save the day here. Diet cola and similar drinks were found to have a pH of 3.1, which is slightly better, but still not good enough for your teeth.
Lemon juice is the most surprising item on this list. How can something so healthy be one of the worst drinks for your teeth? Like many fruit juices, lemon juice is highly acidic. Its pH is between 2 and 3, which puts it on the same level as soda when it comes to enamel erosion.
Still, don’t put it in the same category of unhealthy drinks as sodas. Lemon juice has a long list of health benefits, but you may have to adjust your intake. Limit the amount you drink on a regular basis, and only take it from time to time. To be even more protected, consider drinking it with a straw to minimize contact with the teeth. Also, beware of other citrus fruit juices, as they are also high in acids.
Many of us can’t imagine getting through the day without coffee. Unfortunately, this beloved beverage also belongs to the list of the worst drinks for your teeth. Due to the ingredients that give coffee its natural brown color, it can leave your teeth with an unpleasant yellow tint. Since many people like adding sugar and sweeteners to coffee, it only increases its detrimental effect.
To prevent developing dental problems, the most effective solution would be to cut off caffeine. However, if you aren’t willing to give up on your energy boosts, try reducing your coffee intake to a single cup in the morning. With time, you can even try switching to green tea, which also contains caffeine.
Although these drinks are advertised as healthy and recommended as a post-workout refreshment, they are not good for either your body or your teeth. When it comes to the level of acidity and sugar content, they are very similar to sodas. In fact, one study showed that some energy drinks dissolve more tooth enamel than any other drink, including sodas.
These drinks aren’t that hard to give up. Just try to drink fresh water after a workout, and if you want something to replenish the lost electrolytes, maybe power bars or gels could replace the sports drinks.
Even if you managed to avoid coffee addiction and tea is your drink of choice, it doesn’t mean that your teeth are completely safe. A nice cup of tea can do wonders for both your body and mind. Tea contains antioxidants and can even help your body prevent oral cancer. Not to mention the relaxing effect a cup of tea can have after a stressful day. Still, even with all these upsides, you have to choose tea flavors carefully. Black tea and other darker blends can cause staining in a similar way to coffee. And if you add sugar to it, you are increasing its chances of ruining your teeth.
To minimize these effects, try adding a sugar substitute and limiting your daily intake. There is also a choice of teas that are actually good for your teeth, such as green and herbal tea. However, even these options lose their benefits with sugar or sweeteners.
The Worst Drinks for Your Health: What Can You Do?
While you don’t need to cut these drinks off forever, it would be smart to minimize the amount you take regularly. Things you can do to protect your teeth:
- Try drinking some of these beverages through a straw
- Brush your teeth at least 30 minutes after drinking any of the above-mentioned drinks to prevent staining
- Schedule a teeth whitening appointment once a year
- Whenever you can, drink water instead
Now that you know which drinks to avoid, and have the tips to protect your teeth, your smile is bound to get a lot brighter!