The new year is here, and many of us have made resolutions to clean up our diet with healthier food choices. But what about our drinks? While what we eat is certainly important to health, don't make the common mistake of forgetting to pay attention to what you drink.
This post focuses on non-alcoholic options, and part 2 will rank alcoholic drinks.
The reality is that we drink a lot throughout the day, which is a good thing because staying hydrated is key to good health. But if we drink the wrong things too often, they can have a negative impact on our dental health as well as our overall health.
All of these options tend to be laden with sugar and are often acidic. This is a bad combination for the health of your teeth. Acid erodes protective enamel, while sugar promotes bacterial growth and tooth decay. Add in the fact that these options often have zero beneficial nutrition, and that makes them all a bad choice for your teeth and your health.
While juice is often touted as healthy, the reality is that it actually isn't a great option. Juice is often acidic, and acid can erode tooth enamel. It can also contain tons of added sugar. However, 100% fruit juice with no added sugar provides health benefits from vitamins and minerals, making it preferable to sodas, sports drinks, and energy drinks.
Furthermore, while fresh fruit is also acidic, it has fiber as well as solids, meaning it doesn't get deep in the crevices between teeth and stick around quite as much. Eating a piece of fresh fruit with a glass of water to wash away the acid is your best bet. Alternatively, a bit of fruit in water or seltzer will only add a small amount of acidity and a nice flavor, making it a better alternative. Choose berries over citrus for their lower acidity.
Coffee is somewhere in the middle ground when it comes to dental health. Coffee has antioxidant benefits, which means it fights free radicals that can be damaging to tissue. There are also some potential health benefits to a moderate caffeine intake. Unfortunately, coffee can stain teeth. The other negative impact associated with your morning cup of joe is that coffee is acidic, meaning it has the potential to wear away tooth enamel.
If you must have your coffee, keep it to one or two cups per day and follow with plenty of water to minimize the negative impacts. Don't add sugar, although cream or milk can benefit your dental health since they contain calcium.
Flavored seltzers are becoming trendy. And that's not always a bad thing! Many options are sugar (and calorie) free, which means getting a lot of the benefits of water. Bubbly carbonation doesn't make them any less beneficial, although it can slightly increase acidity. Also, be careful and read the ingredients. Avoid seltzers with citric acid. Seltzers are not as good for you as water but are generally a much better choice than juice and soda.
Tea is a great option for your dental health. Like coffee, many varieties contain antioxidants, which are good for your teeth and health. As long as you do not add sugar or lemon, tea has low acidity and no sugar. The only potential drawback is that black tea can stain your teeth. If that is a concern, stick with green or white tea instead.
Milk is great for your teeth. While it contains a small amount of sugar in the form of lactose, it has several benefits. These include calcium which can strengthen tooth enamel and bones, including your jaw.
As you've probably already guessed, water is the best possible drink for your teeth. Water cleanses the mouth and helps increase saliva production. It also keeps you hydrated, which is vital for so many bodily functions, including keeping your gums healthy.
Just like it is okay to have the occasional dessert, you can indulge in a favorite drink once in a while, even if it is not the "best" everyday choice. Moderation is key, as is drinking plenty of water to wash away acids or sugars when you have them.
Make sure to brush twice a day and schedule your regular dental appointments twice a year to keep your teeth healthy all year long. And check out part 2 of this post to see how your favorite alcoholic drinks and cocktails stack up.