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Summer Sips: What to Drink and What to Avoid for Oral Health

The beverages that we consume daily play a monumental role in the health of our teeth. A local dentist can certainly give recommendations when it comes to what to drink for supreme oral health and what ingredients will help to keep your family’s dental care up to par. And let’s face it: Lafayette, LA is full of so many fun spots to drink, from local bars to coffee shops, juice bars, and everything in between! With that being said, there is so much to choose from drink-wise and we’re here to break down 3 of the best and worst drinks for your teeth this summer. 

Drinks for Good Oral Health:

  1. Water 
Water should be a given when it comes to not only a healthy oral routine, but a healthy body and mind as well. There are primarily two reasons why water should be a staple drink in your diet. For starters, water can flush out any remnants of food left between your teeth or on the surface, whether it’s sugary foods or acidic drinks. Drinking water throughout the day also increases your saliva intake, which in turn prevents dry mouth. The role of saliva is protection— it keeps your mouth moist and comfortable, and aids in the swallowing of food. Human saliva is made up of 99% water, but also contains proteins and minerals that protect tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay and gum disease. And honestly, a glass of cold water is one of the best options for staying hydrated, especially in the Louisiana heat.
  1. Milk
Milk is a great source of calcium and plays a substantial role in making the jaw bones healthy enough to hold teeth in place. Consuming calcium-rich foods and beverages can also lead to healthier gums, which protects against gum disease and fights cavities. Not a fan of cow’s milk? No worries! You can still get calcium from fortified, non-dairy beverages. Fortified soy milk, as well as multiple other nut and seed-based milks can provide high levels of calcium, ensuring your teeth are getting their fair share of the super healthy mineral. You need about 1,000 mg of calcium per day and a cup of milk contains about 300 mg of calcium. Adding a cup of milk to your diet in addition to calcium-rich foods such as cheese, yogurt, and almonds will keep your teeth and bones strong and healthy in the long-run.
  1. Green Tea
There are multiple benefits of drinking green tea, especially from a medical standpoint. Not only is it full of antioxidants, but it also serves as a healthy boost of caffeine for those who wish to stay away from coffee. Because of the properties found in green tea, it may also reduce oral bacteria, which can lead to overall healthier teeth and healthier gums. Multiple studies conclude that there are certain chemicals in green tea that can reduce bad breath, the possibility of cavities, and even gum disease. Not only is green tea great for your teeth, but it can also boost your metabolism and improve brain function.  

Drinks to Avoid:

  1. Soda
Taking the lead as one of the worst drinks for your teeth is soda. Soda is chock-full of sugar and can lead to detrimental oral health issues. An average can of soda has more sugar in it than the American Heart Association recommends you should have in ONE day. The reason why food (i.e. candy) and beverages high in sugar are so bad for your teeth is due to the formation of acid when this sugar combines with the bacteria in your mouth. When bacteria comes in contact with soda, it creates acid as a byproduct, which attacks the tooth structure and its enamel. Over time, this can cause problems for your teeth, especially those who drink soda daily. Soda itself contains its own acidic properties such as phosphoric acid and citric acid, which can increase the risk of cavities and tooth decay. And “diet” sodas are no exception. Although it’s best to cut out soda completely from your diet, having it in moderation, as well as drinking it with a straw, is better than not adjusting your soda-intake at all.
  1. Coffee
As one of the most crucial elements of the typical morning routine, we know it may be tough to accept the fact that coffee isn’t the best option for your teeth. If green tea doesn’t provide that same burst of energy as your daily cappuccino, then beware that coffee has the potential to stain your teeth. The pigments found in coffee actively work to yellow your teeth, despite the myth that adding cream to your coffee can prevent staining. Coffee contains ingredients called tannins, which cause color compounds to stick your teeth, leaving behind an unwanted yellow hue. Thankfully, coffee stains can be taken care of with a simple yearly cleaning or home remedies, so you won’t have to completely ditch the cup of joe.
  1. Wine
Wine and other alcohols have the potential to dehydrate the body, and in turn, cause dry mouth. As stated earlier, saliva protects tooth enamel, which means less saliva equals less protection. Always be sure to drink water after a night of alcohol consumption to combat this common problem. Like coffee, red wine can leave stains on the teeth’s surface. And like soda, wine can be highly acidic, causing enamel erosion over time. Alcohol in general is not the safest beverage for your teeth, whether it’s beer or wine. Combat this issue with a proper nighttime dental routine, which involves flossing and brushing. 
Family dental care is super important and keeping your family’s teeth strong may mean saying no to certain drinks at the supermarket. Every now and then, feel free to choose green tea over coffee for your morning routine or switch out soda for water a few times per week. Even the smallest changes can create the largest results, especially for your teeth. All beverages are perfectly fine in moderation, however, if you start to see an unfavorable change in your teeth, then contact us to learn more about our restorative dentistry options. 
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