One of the biggest enemies of healthy teeth is acid. Acids are found, not only in foods, but also in drinks. Many times, we do not think about acids being present in what we drink on a daily basis, much less the effect these acids may have on our teeth.
Fruit juices, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are all examples of acidic drinks. Even the fruit smoothie, a drink that one might consider a healthy choice, is very acidic, as we shared previously in this article.
If you think by grabbing a can of low-sugar soft drink rather than a regular one will lessen your risk of developing tooth decay, think again. The Australian Dental Association reminds us that it’s the acidity in soft drinks, not just the sugar content, that contributes to tooth decay. Low-sugar beverages have the same level of acidity that regular soft drinks have. Frequent consumption of these low-sugar beverages can still cause damage to tooth enamel.
Acidic drinks can cause tooth sensitivity and cause excessive tooth wear.
How To Protect Your Teeth When Consuming Acidic Drinks
Whilst it can be difficult to avoid these drinks altogether, there are some steps you can take to protect your teeth when you do consume them.
Our first suggestion is to use a straw when drinking acidic drinks. A straw allows you to enjoy your beverage whilst ensuring it has the least amount of contact with your teeth. Choose one that isn’t made of plastic!
When drinking wine, do not skip the cheese! Researchers have found that cheese contains enzymes that can neutralise the damaging effects of the acids on teeth enamel.
We strongly suggest avoiding soft drinks, as these contain the ‘deadly duo’ of sugar and acid, and have no nutritional value. Encourage your children (and yourself) to either give up soft drinks completely or to only consume them as ‘special occasion’ drinks. Water is the best drink to consume on a daily basis.
If you do find yourself consuming an acidic drink, it is a good idea to rinse your mouth out with water or a fluoride mouthwash afterwards. We do not recommend brushing straight away. This is because the acid in the beverage actually temporarily softens (demineralizes) the enamel. Brushing your teeth when the enamel is soft can cause damage to it. Instead, we suggest simply rinsing your teeth to clear the acids away. Once the enamel has had a chance to re-harden (after an hour or so), go ahead and brush with a fluoride-containing toothpaste.