10 drinks that will sabotage your dental health.

Tooth decay is caused when bacteria (which we all have naturally occurring in our mouths) uses sugar from foods or drinks that we consume to make acids. These acids then attack the enamel on our teeth, causing tooth decay. Prevention of enamel loss is very important for the long term health of your teeth.

1. Juice
Often perceived as being healthy, juice is a sneaky source of a high amount of sugar. Certain juices, such as citrus juices (orange, grapefruit, lemon) also have a lot of acid, which can cause permanent damage to tooth enamel.

2. Cordial
Cordial is also high in sugar, and can be quite acidic, leading to tooth decay.

3. Coffee
Coffee alone does not cause tooth decay, however does stains teeth. Avoid adding too much sugar to your coffee, or even flavouring syrups (caramel, hazelnut etc) which greatly increases your sugar intake (leading to tooth decay)

4. Tea
Tea without sugar has many health benefits, just take care as high quantities can lead to teeth staining.

5. Soft drinks
Each can of any regular soft drink contains upwards of 10 teaspoons of sugar. Cola soft drinks have the added detriment of being very acidic. The acid in the drink directly attacks the teeth, while the sugar feeds the bacteria which creates the acid. Better off sticking to water No?

6. Energy and sports drinks
These drinks are high in sugar, and acidity, which means they attack your tooth enamel.

7. Pre-bottled Smoothies
Even if they claim to have “no sugar added,” they still are high in sugar. Many of these smoothies will get away with the claim by using sugar in the form of fruit puree, which adds sweetness (and calories!). Skip these and make smoothies at home from frozen fruit, leafy greens, ice, Greek yogurt, and spices.

8. Alcohol
Alcohol can reduce saliva production in your mouth, affecting your dental health. (saliva is protective to your teeth). Furthermore, it can be high in sugar, especially if it is of the pre-mixed variety!

9. Sweetened nut milks
Nut milks (Almond milk, Cashew milk, coconut milk) are all the craze at the moment, marketed as a healthy alternative to milk. Just be aware to buy the unsweetened variety, to prevent consuming all the hidden sugar!

10. Sparkling water
Mineral water, sparkling water, soda water – they all have a lower pH than normal tap water, making them acidic. Prolonged acid exposure to the teeth can lead to enamel wear.

But when you do have these beverages, remember that there is a way to protect teeth!

Here are a few helpful tips to help you obtain a healthy mouth and a healthy life:

  • Drink the above drinks in moderation, if at all. Stick to water instead.
  • Brush your teeth at least 2 times a day and floss once a day. Also, brush your teeth 30 minutes after each meal to keep them clean and avoid the risk for cavities.
  • Wash your mouth out with water after drinking any of these beverages.
  • Use a straw, so teeth are less exposed to the sugar and acid in the drink
  • Chew sugar-free gum, or gum with xylitol to help minimize damage.
  • If you’re going to drink sugary or acidic beverages, or eat starchy or sweet foods, do so with a meal, and never before you go to sleep.
  • Eat dairy, which contains calcium and other nutrients to repair tooth enamel.
  • Eat vegetables and high-fiber foods because chewing them helps keep your teeth clean.
  • Minimize snacking between meals.
  • Regular teeth and gum cleaning by your dentist will ensure any problems are addressed early.