How the drinks that give you life are killing your teeth
Java. Coffee. Cuppa Joe. Whatever you call it, you can’t survive a day without it: a tall serving of warm, steamy, swirling caffeine. Your morning mug is your life force, your fuel, and if you don’t get it you suffer from headaches and crippling fatigue. But the glorious elixir comes at a cost, and it’s one you might not expect. The very beverage that lets you smile through exhaustion can also dull your smile with staining and enamel erosion. Without proper dental care, the coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks that get you through your day can have detrimental effects on your teeth.
When it comes to getting an energy boost, coffee may be the most effective drink on this list because of its high caffeine volume. An 8 ounce cup of coffee, unaltered with cream or sweetener, can have around 95 mg of caffeine. This is what gives you that morning energy boost you have come to depend on. Coffee’s dark pigment, however, can cause your teeth to yellow (and no, making the drink lighter with creamer doesn’t help). The color settles in your teeth’s porous enamel, staining the surfaces. Coffee can also cause plaque and tartar to accumulate, which can lead to tooth decay. And don’t forget about coffee breath!
Tea is the healthy alternative to coffee, right? Its nutrients and antioxidants make it the warm beverage of choice for many celebrities and health nuts. An 8 ounce cup of tea has about 26 mg of caffeine, and many tea selections are decaffeinated or naturally caffeine free. Though tea has a smaller caffeine content than coffee, that caffeine can still penetrate the enamel of your teeth. Tea can stain too, and black tea can cause even more discoloration than coffee. Green tea, however, has actually been found to have a positive effect on the health of your teeth and gums, but you still have to worry about mild staining.
Soda & Energy Drinks
Soft drinks and energy drinks are the guilty pleasure of caffeine seekers. Everyone already knows that they are jam-packed with sugar, but who can resist an ice cold, fizzy gulp of energy? While there’s no harm in indulging in the occasional bottle of pop, a habit of drinking multiple servings a day is linked with tooth decay. Soda and energy drinks both have extremely high sugar content, which causes acidic reactions in your mouth and breaks down your teeth to the point of decay. A 2012 Gallup poll determined that 20% of Americans drank more than 2 glasses of soda per day, and a full 7% of Americans drank more than 4 glasses of soda per day.
Protecting Your Teeth
While staining is a largely cosmetic issue, the breakdown of tooth enamel and the buildup of plaque and tartar lead to tooth decay and eventually tooth loss. Luckily it’s preventable, and you don’t even have to give up your caffeine habit to make a positive difference in your dental health. Here are our best tips for defending your mouth against your caffeinated beverages.
It’s not the sugar content of your drink that causes decay. It’s actually the length of time the sugar stays in contact with your teeth. This means that the less time you spend consuming sugary drinks, the less time that sugar will be breaking down your enamel. Instead of nursing a drink throughout the day, try to finish your drink earlier and give your teeth a break when you’re done.
Use a straw
Though it might sound silly to drink tea or coffee through a straw, it’s one of the best ways to consume your drink without endangering your teeth. You can still enjoy your drink, and the liquid will mostly bypass your teeth.
Brush your teeth
If you can, try to brush your teeth when you’re done with your beverage. This will prevent the sugar and chemicals from lingering on your teeth long after you’re done.
Rinse your mouth
If you can’t brush your teeth, try to follow up your caffeinated drink with a cup of water in order to flush harmful drink away from the surfaces of your teeth.
Eat an apple
Believe it or not, eating an apple is a fairly effective way to clean your teeth when you are unable to brush and floss properly. The texture of the fruit scrubs lingering sugar from the surfaces of your teeth.
Use whitening toothpaste
Replacing your regular toothpaste with a whitening toothpaste will help combat stains. Make sure you use it twice a day, every day!
See your dentist
Keep plaque and tartar at bay by visiting your general dentist regularly. We recommend that you have your teeth professionally cleaned by your dental hygienist once every six months.
Have a piece of chocolate!
One ounce of chocolate contains 12 mg of caffeine, so it’s a good option when you need a quick pick-me-up. It’s quicker than drinking a cup of coffee, which means the sugar has less time to react with your teeth, but make sure you still rinse out your mouth once you’re done.If you’ve suffered from tooth decay at the hand of your caffeinated drinks, give us a call at Dr. Krakora’s office. We’ll talk to you about extracting any bad teeth, replacing them with dental implants, and keeping your teeth healthy in the future.