Is your beverage of choice to keep you motivated throughout the workday anything but water? If your day starts with one or more cups of coffee, followed by a soda with lunch and a glass of wine with dinner, you may want to think about how the beverages you consume affect your dental health.
Here's why certain drinks are fine in moderation, but water is the ultimate beverage for your teeth.
You Are What You Drink
If you're sipping an iced tea as you read this, you may want to re-think not only what you drink throughout the day but how you drink too. Everything you eat and drink passes directly over your teeth, which directly impacts your tooth enamel.
Tooth erosion, also known as dental or acid erosion, occurs when acids wear away tooth enamel. Over time, tooth enamel erosion can attribute to tooth discoloration, decay, sensitivity, and even tooth loss.
Five Beverages To Avoid Whenever Possible
Here are five beverages to avoid and why:
Coffee and Espresso. A morning cup of coffee is a daily routine for millions. Still, coffee's natural brown color can discolor your teeth, and the added sugar into flavored or sweetened coffee can increase one's risk of cavities.
Soda. The acids and sugar by-products in soda heighten your risk of cavities by softening the protective tooth enamel leaving you at high risk for tooth decay.
Tea. Similar to coffee, tea can leave your teeth stained if you enjoy dark-colored teas such as black tea and other dark blends.
Sports Drinks. The high acid content in sports drinks can damage tooth enamel even more than soda.
Alcohol. The strength of most alcoholic drinks can wear down the enamel, and its sugar content can also contribute to periodontal disease. Dark-colored alcohols like red wine leave particularly heavy stains over time.
Why Enamel Erosion Matters
When your tooth enamel erodes, the tooth is more susceptible to cavities or tooth decay. When the tooth decay enters the hard enamel, it has entry to the main body of the tooth and leaves behind signs of enamel erosion, including:
- Sensitivity - Certain foods and temperatures may cause a twinge of pain in the early stages of enamel erosion.
- Discoloration - As the enamel erodes and more dentin is exposed, your teeth may appear yellow.
- Cupping - Indentations (cavities) appear on the surfaces of your teeth
- Cracks and chips - The edges of teeth become more rough, irregular, and jagged as enamel erodes.
Keeping Your Teeth Healthy Through Your Diet
Keep your teeth healthy and decay-free by snacking on healthy food choices and equally healthy liquids to maintain a brighter, healthier smile.
Raw Produce - Raw fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that you can't get anywhere else. They make especially wise snacks because they work as natural toothbrushes, removing bacteria from your teeth before they can affect your enamel.
Water - The best thing you can do for your teeth and body is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Drinking water throughout the day instead of soda, tea, or coffee makes you rise food particles from your teeth and keep your body hydrated. Make the switch to water, and you'll notice yourself feeling better and more aware of your other choices.
Dairy - Dairy contains phosphorus, calcium, and other enamel-strengthening nutrients. Plain yogurt without added sugars and cheese help to balance the mouth's pH levels, neutralizing acids, and help prevent enamel wear. Additionally, cheese stimulates saliva flow, which washes away harmful bacteria.
Lean Proteins - Lean meats like chicken and fish offer tooth-friendly nutrients that support your overall oral health.
Consequences of Extreme Tooth Wear
If left untreated, severely worn teeth put you at risk for encountering the following if you begin to suffer from extreme tooth wear:
Discomfort Performing Routine Functions
When your teeth are worn, they don't perform their jobs as they should. Worn teeth don't function properly when attempting to bite or chew, and regular tasks become painful such as eating, chewing, or speaking.
Worn teeth don't fit together in a healthy, natural way. When paired with poor function, the jaw muscles have to strain to get teeth working as they should. Long-term unhealthy jaw movements can lead to damage to the jaw joints and even a TMJ disorder.
Straining to fit teeth together to chew can cause muscle tension outside of the jaw. Facial pain, chronic headaches, and migraines can all be by-products of severe tooth wear.
The negative aesthetic changes that accompany worn teeth may suggest you are older than you are.
If you can't help but reach for something other than water to get you through the workday, you're not alone. There are plenty of ways to enjoy your favorite beverages in moderation while still maintaining exceptional dental health. Ask Tompkins Dental for a few of our favorite tips and tricks at your next appointment.