Tooth decay isn’t something anyone wants. But avoiding it can be difficult. We see patients who brush and floss regularly, but still have trouble avoiding problems with their teeth. That’s because we all have to eat and drink…but doing that also feeds naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth. And when those bacteria feed, they create acid that can erode the enamel surface of your teeth.
So What Should You Drink?
Some foods and drinks are better than others for your teeth. For a list of foods, check out our previous article about Foods that Feed Your Smile.
What you drink can be just as important to preventing tooth decay as what you eat. Sugary and acidic drinks taste great, but they also create danger for your tooth enamel. So here are some better choices for your teeth.
Water is Best
Simply put, fluoridated water is the best thing you can drink for your teeth. Clean water doesn’t cause any acid or sugar problems. Adding fluoride makes it even healthier for your teeth. Fluoride from water soaks into the teeth in a process called remineralization. Along with calcium and other minerals, it helps protect teeth from decay. Most bottled water doesn’t have much fluoride in it, but you can now buy prepackaged water with added fluoride, which is the smarter way to go when buying bottled water.
Just like the fluoride in water can help your teeth, milk provides calcium and phosphorus to help remineralize your teeth. Studies have shown that it can also help raise the pH level in your mouth, reducing acid damage to your teeth. In one study, milk actually outperformed water when it came to reducing the impact of eating sugary foods.
Green tea gets a lot of high marks for healthy benefits. Among them is the potential reduction in tooth decay and gum disease. Drinking tea made with fluoridated water gives you both the benefits of the fluoride and the additional benefits of the tea. But because green tea is now recognized widely as having possible health benefits, you’ll find all types of bottled options out there, many of them loaded with sugar.
Drinking Something Else?
Nobody is going to stick to water, milk and unsweetened green tea all of the time. And we probably shouldn’t. Fruit juices and other beverages in moderation have their place in our diets. But many of them are sugary or acidic. So here are a few tips to help keep your teeth protected when drinking something less healthy for your teeth.
Chase it with Water
Drinking some water after a sugary or acidic drink will help rinse your teeth and gums, reducing the impact of that soda you just drank.
Don’t Brush Your Teeth
At least, don’t brush your teeth right away. Wait half an hour. Brushing too soon after drinking something acidic can actually cause more damage to your tooth enamel. The acid weakens the enamel and makes it vulnerable to damage from your toothbrush. But once that half hour is up, brushing is a great idea.