It’s summer, it’s 90 degrees outside and you need a way to keep yourself and your kids hydrated. Soft drinks, juices and sports drinks are often convenient—but should be consumed in moderation because drinking too much could damage your teeth. Most of these drinks are loaded with sugar. Instead reach for some water for healthy teeth.
The Benefits of Water for Teeth
The obvious healthy choice at the pool or beach is water. It hydrates your body without the negative impact on your teeth (and the rest of you) from added sugar, caffeine and acid.
Plain Water is Safe for Your Teeth
Sugary drinks feed the bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay. Less sugar is always better for your teeth and water contains no sugar.
However, it isn’t just sugar you need to watch out for. A study in the March/April 2013 issue of General Dentistry says the acid in carbonated diet soda can also cause significant damage to your teeth if you drink too much. So you have to watch out for acidic drinks. Anything carbonated (including sparkling water) is acidic because the carbon dioxide turns into carbonic acid in your mouth. Even drinks without carbonation can damage your teeth with acid. A study printed in the journal General Dentistry in 2012 suggests that the acid in sports drinks and energy drinks could damage your tooth enamel (the outer protective layer of the tooth).
Fluoride in Water is Good for Your Teeth
The benefits of drinking water can go beyond just protecting your teeth. They can actually help improve the health of your enamel. If you Use tap water or bottled water with fluoride added, you’ll be actively fighting cavities.Fluoride has been shown to decrease cavity formation by 20-40%. So, the best choice is to fill a reusable water bottle from your sink. Not only will you and your kids benefit from the fluoride in the tap water, you’ll also be keeping more plastic out of the landfill. If refilling your water bottle is going to be a problem and your going to need to carry extra in a cooler, take a hard look at the bottled water on the shelf in your local grocery store. You’ll usually be able to find some with fluoride added.
Still Water Cleans Your Mouth
A great reason to drink water over other beverages is that instead of leaving behind sugar and acid, it actually helps clean out your mouth. Not as effectively as brushing, but gulping down some water will remove food particles from your teeth.
Drinking Water Keeps You Hydrated
Hydration helps your body function well in a lot of ways. One of those is keeping the saliva flowing in your mouth. Saliva is 95% water, so if you become dehydrated, you probably won’t be producing as much as you need. Saliva doesn’t just start breaking down food when you eat it, it also helps to protect your teeth from decay-causing bacteria.
How to Protect Your Teeth When You Don’t Drink Water
If you do reach for a soft drink, sports drink or sugary lemonade, there are a couple things that can help protect your teeth. Forget what you’ve heard about using a straw. It doesn’t reduce contact with your teeth enough to make a positive difference. But, when you’re done with the drink, you can rinse with some water or reach for some sugar-free gum. Either will help clean some of the sugar and acid from your teeth. And don’t forget about regular brushing and flossing—which can help rescue your teeth when you do indulge in something other than water.