With summer here, many of us are looking to relax in the shade, often with a cool beverage in hand. Especially in Florida, a cold sports drink or soda can hit the spot after you’ve spent some time in the shade. Unfortunately, while you’re avoiding the punishing rays of the sun, you may be exposing your teeth to their own kind of punishment from the drinks you’re consuming. Sweet drinks, alcoholic drinks, and drinks with lots of acidic content can all do a number on your pearly whites. But what’s a reasonable solution, especially if you enjoy these types of drinks? Don’t worry. Dr. Shields and her team at Smiles by Shields have some reasonable solutions to help you keep your teeth in great shape while still enjoying the beverages you love.
Dissecting the Drinks
So, what is it that can cause drinks to be so damaging to your teeth? The biggest offenders are often sugar, acids, and alcohol. Sugar, in particular, is one of the most prevalent additives in the many drinks we consume. Soft drinks, energy and sports drinks, sweet tea, and juice drinks all contain hefty amounts of sugar. When left on your teeth, sugars degrade your enamel. This erosion of the tooth’s protective layer can lead to increased tooth pain and sensitivity, which will only increase over time. Additionally, the possibility of tooth decay and cavities occurring is increased. Left untreated, a patient may ultimately be looking at the possibility of tooth loss.
Often, these same drinks with high sugar contents can also contain substantial amounts of acids. A combination of acids and sugars only speeds the process of tooth degradation. Some drinks, such as coffee or tea may not contain any sugars, but still have considerable acidic content. With alcohol or alcoholic drinks, sugars and acids are already present. Adding soda or juice as mixers to your alcoholic drink increases the overall content. Alcohols, such as wine or beer can still have considerable amounts of sugar. Wines, especially reds, often have high acidic levels.
Moderation and Modification
More than likely, you’re not going to give up your favorite drinks overnight. The good news is, you don’t have to. There are sensible solutions available. One of the first steps may be to reduce your overall consumption of sugary or acidic drinks. Look for healthy alternatives, such as water or reduced sugar-content drinks. Or save these drinks for special occasions. Additionally, a healthier approach to your sugar intake is good for your whole body, not just your teeth.
If you do indulge, have a glass of water every once in a while to help wash out the sugars and acids that may have accumulated in your mouth. Alternating water will also help out with your digestion and filtering of your drinks, too. Milk or dairy products can also help to counteract the effects of acids and sugars. Additionally, using a straw when having a sugary or acidic beverage can help bypass the teeth, to an extent. Less direct contact can reduce some wear and tear, but the drink will still impact your teeth, even with a straw.
Finally, make sure you’re practicing sound dental maintenance and take care of your oral health as much as possible.
- Brush and floss regularly
- Avoid sugary and acidic drinks before bedtime
- Chew sugar-free gum after sweets
- Schedule annual or semi-annual visits to your dentist
Expert Advice from a Dentist
If you still have questions about the effects of certain drinks or foods on your teeth, consult a trusted dentist in Jacksonville FL. For dental patients in or around Jacksonville, FL, Dr. Tiffany Shields offers a wide variety of patient treatment services and options. From general dentistry services to more specific cosmetic dentistry, such as Invisalign, Smiles by Shields Dentistry can meet your needs. Dr. Shields is also a practitioner of Integrated dentistry, which offers a holistic approach to the health of your teeth as well as your overall health and wellness. Contact us today to schedule your next appointment.