Okay, I admit it–I'm addicted to coffee, tea, and diet soda. I begin nearly every morning with a cup of coffee or espresso, opt for a Diet Coke in the afternoon, and always end my night with a hot cup of tea. Kombucha to cola, we all have brews that we can't live without. But could the daily consumption of our favorite beverages be causing serious negative side effects to our health?
The other day, I was at the dentist getting my teeth checked out and cleaned. During my appointment, my dentist talked to me about how my daily habit of drinking coffee, tea, and soda could seriously be negatively affecting the health of my teeth.
This was a reality check. Although the negative effects of soda on teeth (goodbye enamel) was not new information to me, I had never been educated on how other beverages, such as teas, coffees, wines, etc. could also have a harmful impact on the health of my pearly whites.
Here are the tasty culprits I learned to watch out for:
1. Carbonated Drinks
Most of you won't be too surprised by this one. Drinking carbonated drinks, regular, diet, or caffeine-free, all possess some sort of acid in it. Not only does the acidic contents of the drink attack your protective enamel, but the combination of your own spit with the sugar and acidic contents of soda creates harmful acids which leads to erosion.
#SpoonTip: When you can't resist a sip of fizz, drink with a straw.
To help save your enamel, drinking through a straw helps bring the fluid straight to your tongue and back to your throat. It's a win-win for you and your beautiful smile.
Sadly, while my favorite drink morning, day, or night, coffee is no exception to causing damage to your teeth. Coffee naturally is an acidic drink, so for avid coffee drinkers like myself, having multiple cups each day can lead to some enamel corrosion.
While the acidity of carbonated drinks is artificially created, coffee's acidity originates purely based off of where and how it's grown. For example, a higher acidity level is valued in Central American and some East African coffee. The acidity level of coffee can also vary depending on the degree, type of roaster, and way the coffee is brewed. Make sure to keep an eye out for what kind of coffee you're buying.
This trick is a little harder to keep up with, but rinsing your teeth after your morning brew is actually the best form of protection. By rinsing your mouth with water after that pumpkin spice latte, you remove the lingering acid off your teeth and help avoid damage to your enamel.
Tea, like coffee, is a naturally acidic drink. But in retrospect, when choosing something to drink, tea can be a better option than carbonated drinks. Prepackaged iced teas also contain a lot of sugar and citric acid, a combination that can lead to teeth erosion.
#SpoonTip: Avoid added sugar.
In the name of a sparkly smile, you may want to keep it old-school and opt for just the hot water and tea bag—ditch the spoonfuls of extra sugar, cream, or lemon juice.
Lastly, everyone's favorite drink to unwind to—wine. Similarly to the other drinks above, a good glass of wine will always be acidic. An integral part of the taste of each wine, is the level of acidity—too much or too little of tartaric, malic, lactic, citric, acetic, and succinct acids can make or break the wine. Sadly, like the other drinks, wine has a low pH level which in combination with our spit can again lead to enamel erosion.
#SpoonTip: Pair your wine with food.
If you're having a more acidic drink, enjoying your drink with a meal will help neutralize the drink's higher acidic cotent. This can also help to create a sort of barrier from the acids of the drink on your teeth, limiting the amount of contact the acidic drink and your teeth will have. Not sure you're ready to full on adult? Click here to learn how to pair your favorite childhood snacks with wine.
In no way am I suggesting that you give up your love for coffee that bottle (or two) of wine with friends. However, protecting our teeth and being mindful when enjoying that grande cold brew could be the difference between a million-watt smile and something that resembles your grin after devouring a chocolate bar.
While some of these suggested tricks to help protect our teeth from unwanted erosion may be hard to implement daily—trust me, over time you and your teeth will be happy that you did.