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The Liquid Peril You Don’t See – 7 Drinks that Can be Harmful to Teeth

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Even the best dentist in Florida will tell you that some seemingly-innocent drinks are bad for your teeth. Teeth are tools, and taking care of them early on in life means they last much longer later down. Part of taking care of your teeth comes from figuring out what it can deal with and what it can’t. Several factors contribute to the negative impact that drinks have on teeth, from the temperature to the acidity. Many a Florida dentist will testify that people seem to choose the most damaging options for their teeth.

As dentists, we bear some of the responsibility for these bad choices. We’re supposed to help our patients understand why certain things are bad for their teeth and encourage them to avoid them. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to communicate that to a client when they’re only coming in for a checkup once every few months. To help those clients, we compiled a few interesting facts about common drinks that you should know about.

1. Wine

It goes well with many dinners, but wine can be hazardous to your teeth in large volumes. There is evidence that red wine may contain chemicals that help to control gum disease and tooth decay within your mouth, according to The BBC. However, if you have one glass of wine a day, you are endangering your teeth more than you know. The acid in wine reacts with the enamel of your teeth, stripping away the calcium. This process can leave your teeth brittle and unable to perform their function of crushing and chewing. A little wine might be a good idea, but too much can lead to a dental disaster.

2. Beer

Another entry in the alcohol category, the jury is still out on beer. Dark beers tend to contain roasted malts and barley, which can discolor your teeth if consumed in large amounts. Dyed beer for festival days like St. Patrick’s Day can also leave your teeth with a green tint. A lot of beers are acidic as well, weakening your teeth when you consume it. The worst offenders are Belgian sour ales and Flanders red ales, both of which are very low on the pH scale (as low as 3). Many professionals suggest tempering beer consumption by eating or drinking something alkaline in nature to temper the effect the acid may have on teeth.

3. Soft Drinks

This danger should need no introduction. The Wisconsin Dental Association (WDA) mentions that the damaging reaction that soda has with teeth can last up to twenty minutes after a sip. Soda pop has two significant effects on teeth. Firstly, it can lead to erosion. The carbon dioxide inside soda pop can negatively impact your teeth by eroding the enamel through abrasion. The weak carbonic acid also interacts with your teeth’s chemistry to weaken the teeth.

Soda’s second insidious method of damaging your teeth has to do with its sugar content. Many a dentist in Florida has complained about the sugar content of soft drinks, but clients have typically ignored their advice. Sugar can lead to cavities because of bacteria in the mouth. Since soda has such a high sugar content, it’s only natural that higher consumption of these sugary drinks will lead to more cavities in soda drinkers. While it’s fine to have a glass of soda once in a while, the everyday consumption of multiple bottles of the stuff will lead to rotten teeth sooner rather than later.

4. Sports Drinks

They might seem like a harmless energy restorer for when you’re on the field, but overconsumption of sports drinks can lead to permanent loss of tooth volume. A paper published in The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences mentions that sports drinks can lead to softening of the outer layer of the tooth. The paper blames their impact on teeth on the low pH these drinks demonstrate. Additionally, these drinks also contain significant amounts of sugar (although less than soft drinks, typically). These factors all contribute to sports drinks, being a questionable choice if you want to maintain healthy teeth.

5. Carbonated or Sparkling Water

it’s a commonly accepted fact that water is healthy for your teeth. However, that only applies to water in its pure, unadulterated form. Carbonated water can damage teeth because of the dissolved carbon dioxide that gives the water its fizz. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) notes that sparkling water tends to be less acidic than soda but still acidic enough to cause tooth erosion. You should note that sparkling mineral water usually adds chemical components to the drink to raise the pH above a dangerous level. These sparkling drinks are less detrimental than pure soda water, and you could use them as a replacement for soft drinks without any significant ill effects.

6. Coffee

This drink is another one that can go either way. On the plus side, coffee has shown to be beneficial to teeth. A study in the Journal of Conservative Dentistry notes that, without additives, coffee can actually prevent the formation of cavities. The big problem is that most of us can’t stand black coffee. Adding milk, sugar, and even condensed milk reduces the drink’s effectiveness in preventing holes in your teeth. An additional problem that crops up is its ability to discolor teeth. Tannins are a chemical compound in coffee that can lead to teeth developing a yellowish hue. Drinking coffee black might help prevent cavities, but you’ll still have to go in for teeth whitening at your favorite Florida dentist now and then.

7. Fruit Juice

We have heard it time and time again in our dental office in Florida – fruit juice is healthy and can’t harm my body! We hate to break it to you, but fruit juice can be disastrous to teeth. The big problem with fruit juice is the presence of sugars in the drink. While many drinks boast that they have no added sugars, the fructose that already exists within fruit juice can be just as bad for teeth. Additionally, the acidity of these drinks adds to their deleterious effect on teeth. The journal Perspectives in Public Health cites a study that suggests that the average pH of fruit juices may be between 2.62 and 4.26. These values are well within the range that could cause damage to tooth enamel.

There has been more research into the impact of fruit juices on oral health, and the results are surprising. A paper submitted to the Journal of International Dental and Medical Research notes that salivary pH dropped more from commercially processed fruit juices than from fresh juice. What this suggests is that if you do intend to drink fruit juice, you should go with the freshly-squeezed options over the store-bought ones.

Knowing is Half the Battle

As any Florida dentist would advise you, stay away from these dangerous drinks. A little sip once in a while won’t hurt, but these drinks aren’t designed to make you want to stop drinking. Sugar, caffeine, and other addictive chemicals can create habits that are hard to kick. While we at Anderson Dental Lake Worth can’t help you kick those habits, we can try to keep your teeth in good repair if you have them. Give us a call today and schedule an appointment. We’d be glad to help you keep your teeth in good shape, even if you drink a lot of these not-so-great drinks.