Keeping your pearly whites white—Effects of drinks on your teeth

whitesAs you sip on your coffee, tea or soda, the liquid is continually passing through your pearly whites. Your teeth are the gatekeepers in your mouth and are often affected by what you drink.

Scott & White dentist Kyle Frazier, DDS provides some tips on how to keep your teeth healthy, despite over consumption of some destructive drinks.

Steer Clear of the Sugar

Dr. Frazier says any drink with sugar it in it can cause decay. It’s important to look at the labels and be aware of how much sugar you’re consuming. Bacteria convert sugars into acid, and this causes decay on tooth surfaces.

In addition to sugar, Dr. Frazier says acid in drinks can cause damage as well by yellowing the teeth and eroding the enamel layer. Too much acid and erosion can cause your teeth to become sensitive to temperatures and brushing.

“This explains why diet sodas, which contain artificial sweeteners, still damage teeth – they contain acids which erode the enamel and dentin,” explains Dr. Frazier.

Sipping All Day?

The amount of sugary or acidic drink you ingest is not usually as important as the total amount of time those drinks are in contact with your teeth.

For instance, someone who drinks a 24 ounce soda during the course of a meal will have less contact time between the drink and their teeth than someone who sips on a 12 ounce soda all afternoon.

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“This is because someone who sips the soda all afternoon is constantly bathing their teeth in acidic and sugary liquid,” says Dr. Frazier.

His best advice is to control the amount of sugary and acidic drinks you consume as well as the total time those drinks are in contact with your teeth. He says if you a currently a chronic “sipper” of these drinks, consider trying to limit yourself to having these drinks with meals.

Get Routine Cleanings

If you’re a heavy coffee or soda drinker, make sure you get in for a routine dental cleaning. This will help remove plaque buildup and stains on the surface of your teeth

“Staining from dark drinks such as coffee and tea can be removed with professional cleanings,” says dental hygienist Pam Fulton, RDH.

“Merge your drinking habits with proper oral hygiene – flossing, brushing and the use of fluoride rinses like ACT,” says Dr. Frazier. “We see plenty of bad teeth in our clinic, but patients with very nice oral hygiene usually have very nice teeth.”

Keep On Smiling

If you’re worried about ditching the soda, don’t worry. Remember to keep things in moderation, and proper hygiene can keep you smiling.

If you are worried about your teeth discoloration, talk to your dentist.

Fulton says hygienists and dentists routinely examine the mouth as a whole including tissue changes, gingival health and tooth structures to identify abnormalities. They may ask you about symptoms, complaints, habits or your home hygiene. They can help you make a game plan to correct bad habits or stop destructive behavior.

“A team effort is put in place to make a customized plan of action,” says Fulton. “We can keep documentation or photos to help monitor your changes over time.”

The truth is we may not see the direct impact tea, coffee or soda have on our teeth until there is a problem. Consider your dental hygiene before there is cause for concern.

“We take things like teeth for granted until there is a problem,” says Dr. Frazier. “Having a healthy mouth with a nice smile allows you to direct your focus onto the more important things in your life without being troubled by an unhealthy dentition.”

About the author

Jill Taylor
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I contribute content and skills as a freelance writer for Baylor Scott & White Health. I enjoy improving our connection with our readers, patients and communities by assisting with a wide range of writing projects.

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Keeping your pearly whites white—Effects of drinks on your teeth