To maintain good oral health it is important to be conscious of what you put in your mouth. Food and drinks must be checked for their contents and what it can contribute to your general well-being. Most people know that cokes and soda pops are not good for your health, but advertisers go a long way to promote “healthy” drinks such as Gatorade or Vitamin water. Unfortunately, many people are not aware that even the so-called “healthy” drinks can cause more harm than good to the condition of your teeth. Because baby teeth have thinner enamel, the effects on them can be even more pronounced than on permanent teeth.
The following are some examples of beverages that are commonly thought as harmless and healthy:
- Sports/Energy drinks – After an hour in the gym or playing your favorite sport most people will reach for sports or energy drinks. According to studies, several brands contain low pH, which means it is acidic and bad for your teeth. Acidic drinks can weaken the teeth by eroding its enamel gradually. When the enamel is weak, your teeth become sensitive to heat and cold and susceptible to cavities. Next time you buy sports drink, check the pH level which should be at least 5.5, lower than that is considered acidic. And as with all sugary drinks, minimize your intake and drink it at once instead of sipping and making it last the whole day.
- Bottled water – Water in general is an excellent choice for rehydration, but bottled water does not contain fluoride, an ingredient that helps keep teeth strong and healthy. So when available, drink fluoridated tap water instead. It does not only save you a few dollars but also helps you keep your pearly whites for many years.
- Fruit juices – Most people think that fruit juices are healthy so they take it in large doses and often give it to their children as sources of vitamins. However, fruit juices can never replace the benefits that you get from eating real fruits. Fruit juices’ sugar and acidity levels are high enough to weaken the tooth enamel.
- Tea – Tea is an antioxidant and several studies show that it is good for overall health. But a study on its effect on teeth shows that this health drink can also erode and stain teeth. Black tea is found to erode teeth faster than the green variety. However, this effect is not as fast when compared to that of fruit juices and energy drinks because there is no sugar in plain tea unless it is artificially added. Though there is no reason not to enjoy the overall benefits of tea, drinking it in moderation is better for your teeth.
Drinking to your health must be coupled with awareness and knowledge so that you can make the right choices to maintain good oral health. Here are some tips on minimizing damage from sugary and acidic drinks:
- Read the label. If you can’t resist reaching for a “healthy” drink, at least choose one that has the least sugar and right pH level.
- Use straw to minimize contact of acid and/or sugar ingredients on your teeth and drink it in short amount of time.
- Fluoridated tap water remains the best choice so reach for the faucet instead of acidic beverages.
- After having an acidic drink, rinse your mouth with water to give your enamel time to recover.
- Visit your dentist regularly.