Do you know how much sugar is in your drinks? Many people drink fizzy drinks on a regular basis, but most do not realise exactly how much damage this is causing to their teeth. Finding out more about how this damage takes place can enable you to find solutions that help to reduce this.
Fizzy drinks contain a lot of sugar, which causes acidic conditions in the mouth that can lead to tooth decay. Tooth decay is the result of bacteria in the mouth that feeds on the sugars in fizzy drinks and produces the acids that can damage teeth and dissolve the protective layers of enamel.
Here at Guiney Dental Clinic, we are passionate about caring for teeth, and we know that fizzy drinks are a major culprit in causing dental problems. We see many patients who have experienced tooth erosion, caused when these sugary acids attack the teeth and dissolve the surface of the enamel on the teeth. When this happens on a regular basis, the loss of enamel leads to cavities and the inner layers of the teeth can become exposed, leading to increased sensitivity and pain.
What Should I Drink?
It is easy to see how damage to the teeth occurs in studies that look at the damage caused to enamel by different drinks. Some drinks, such as fizzy drinks and sports energy drinks, even if these are labelled as ‘sugar free’, create very high levels of acidity in the mouth and should be seriously limited or cut out of the diet in order to protect the teeth.
Drinks such as fruit juice contain lower amounts of sugars and create moderately acidic conditions in the mouth, so dentists recommend that you drink these only occasionally. Dentists also advise drinking water or milk wherever possible, since these are better for the health of the mouth and do not cause any problems with acidity.
How Can I Protect My Teeth From Fizzy Drinks?
Many people have developed a habit of drinking several fizzy drinks throughout the day, and this can have serious long-term consequences for teeth. If you are drinking a lot of fizzy drinks throughout the course of the day or the week, you should consider making some changes to protect your teeth in the future. Of course, cutting out fizzy drinks altogether will be the best way to take care of your teeth and gums, and this will prevent further damage to the enamel on your teeth. This is not always possible, however, and learning how to minimise the damage can be the next best thing.
Our top tips to protect your teeth against fizzy drinks include:
1. Drink water instead. Swapping out your fizzy drinks for water will be one of the very best things you can do for your teeth and for your health. Water is essential for cell development and to help the body detox, and even replacing one of your regular fizzy drinks with water will have a positive effect. One of the most positive steps you can take for your health is to cut these drinks out altogether – challenge yourself to try it for a week and feel the difference straight away!
2. Drink through a straw. If you must drink a fizzy drink, using a straw will help to reduce the damage to your teeth. This will minimise the contact between the fizzy drink and your mouth, and will help to reduce the risks of the drink pooling around the teeth and damaging the enamel.
3. Eat cheese when you have a fizzy drink. The main problem with fizzy drinks is that they create an acidic environment in the mouth and this is very bad for teeth. Although snacking between meals is not recommended by dentists, cheese is a good option to add if you are eating or drinking a sugary product. Cheese can help to neutralise the acids in the mouth created by the sugars, and this can help to protect your teeth.
4. Wait before brushing teeth. Although you may think that brushing your teeth immediately after drinking a fizzy drink will protect your teeth, this is actually a bad idea. The sugars in fizzy drinks and snacks change the pH in the mouth, making it very acidic, and it can take at least 30 minutes to an hour for the saliva to return the pH to neutral. It is important not to brush until the saliva has done its job, since this could spread the acids around in the mouth and compound the damage to the teeth.
5. Drink up. If you cannot eliminate fizzy drinks from your diet, you should be aware that drinking them slowly, throughout the day, is the very worst way to indulge. Sipping a drink rather than drinking it all at once can expose your teeth and gums to the sugars for longer, and give your mouth less chance to recover from the onslaught of acid. Research shows that each acidic attack lasts for around 20 minutes in the mouth, and that each sip of a fizzy drink sets off another attack. Being aware of this can help you to understand how important it is to drink your fizzy drink all in one go, rather than consuming it over a long period of time and prolonging the opportunity for acids to destroy the enamel on your teeth.
Should I Swap To Sugar Free Drinks?
Sugar free drinks are often seen as a good alternative to fizzy drinks, but this is just clever marketing and will not benefit your teeth at all. Sugar free drinks tend to contain a lot of additives and sweeteners, and some studies show that they may actually cause more damage to teeth than their sugary counterparts. These create the same acidic conditions as sugary fizzy drinks in the mouth, and cause similar amounts of dental erosion, too. Fruit juices, especially citrus juices, can also cause these problems and can contribute to the erosion of tooth enamel in the mouth.
Find A Dentist In Cork
Have you got a great dentist? Your dentist and dental hygienist should be familiar faces to you and your family, and you should feel comfortable discussing your dental health and lifestyle with them. We would encourage you to come and meet our friendly team at the Guiney Dental Clinic, and find out how we can work together to protect your teeth in the future.
We love to work with the whole family, and we advise patients to bring their children along to check ups so that they get used to the process. We know that many people worry about visiting the dentist, and our dentists and dental hygienists are experienced in working with children and adults to make this process easier. Call today on 021-481 0535.