With spring here and everyone heading back outside to enjoy the beautiful weather, it’s of paramount importance to stay hydrated. In fact, it's absolutely vital to our survival, since much of our bodies are made up of water. Did you know that 80 percent of our blood is made of water, and that 85 percent of our brain is water? Even 70 percent of our muscle tissue is water! So staying hydrated is absolutely crucial to our survival.
Of course, not everyone loves water. It’s not fizzy or flavored, not colored, and it doesn’t really do much to boost your energy level like a cup of coffee would. Thankfully for those of us who cannot exist on water alone, there are a bevy of beverage options to choose from out there. But you may be left wondering which of these options are actually good for our teeth - and which of them are really bad. Here’s the lowdown on some surprisingly good (and maybe surprisingly bad!) drink options for our oral health.
Sparkling Water Versus Soda
You’ve probably at least seen the colorful cartons of fruit-flavored sparkling water like La Croix at your local supermarket. The tasty sparkling waters boast all-natural flavors, no calories, no sodium and no sugar. Plus, they’re colorless, so less chance of staining your teeth. They sound like a win-win, right? Not exactly. Much like regular fruit juice, fruit-flavored sparkling waters have something you may not realize: citric acid. Though not bad in itself, citric acid is an arch nemesis of tooth enamel. If left on the teeth long enough, it can soften the tooth enamel, making it weaker and more susceptible to bacteria, cavities and decay.
While we don’t think it’s a big enough deal to ditch the sparkling water altogether, be sure to follow your can of La Croix with a tall glass of water and brush your teeth about 30 minutes later. This will give the enamel time to re-harden, so you don’t damage it with your toothbrush, and keep the residual acid off your teeth.
As for regular sodas (diet or otherwise) like colas, lemon-lime, orange and other flavors, we definitely recommend you avoid the full-sugar versions, and drink them sparingly. Diet soda isn’t much better as it still has the same high levels of acidity that sparkling water does. Follow the same brushing steps with soda as you do with sparkling water. And if you’re wondering what the best soda is for your teeth, believe it or not, it’s root beer! Root beer contains the least acid and sugar of any regular soda.
Coffee and Tea
Coffee gets a bad rap from some dentists because it can stain the teeth, but coffee itself is actually not bad for your teeth. It is high in acidity, so again you want to be sure you clean your teeth well 30 minutes after drinking it, but recent studies have shown that coffee is full of polyphenols, which help keep your teeth strong. So, if you absolutely must have that cup or two of coffee, don’t feel too bad - just keep on top of your brushing routine.
Tea, on the other hand, has shown no adverse effects on the teeth. Most teas do not stain teeth, but be careful about which kind of tea you drink. Citrus teas are very acidic and can damage enamel.
A recent study shows that the polyphenols in red wine are actually very good for our teeth! Polyphenols can help slow everything from diabetes to cancer, heart disease and, yes, even cavities. That’s because these nifty little polyphenols can kill off a few strains of particularly nasty bacteria called porphyrmonas gingivalis, streptococcus mutans and fusobacterium nucleatum. These three bad boys are responsible for everything from tooth decay to cavities and periodontal disease. So keep raising your wine glass and enjoy the benefits of those polyphenols!
A new drink is set to hit the marketplace. It’s called Qii, and it's supposed to be a dentist's dream come true - a flavored beverage that’s sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar substitute that helps promote saliva and tricks oral bacteria like s. mutans into thinking it’s full while starving it in the process. The Qii drinks are also sugar free, and have a neutral pH, so no need to rinse them off your teeth or wait to brush after drinking. While Qii isn’t available everywhere yet, it’s certainly worth a try if you’re interested, but at $23 for 12 cans, you may just want to stick with good old-fashioned water for now!
If you have any questions or concerns about the effects of the beverages you drink on your teeth, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Abelar, please give the office a call at 858-866-9692.