Next time you’re at your party, you probably will be thinking about anything but your oral health. However, our overall oral health is determined by the sum of all our momentary decisions. If you want to have the healthiest smile possible, you need to make sure you’re keeping this in mind constantly, and that includes at parties. Here are some tips for choosing healthy drinks for your teeth.
Hopefully, by now you know that soda pop is probably the worst possible thing you can drink for your teeth. Not only is there a lot of sugar and in many cases has staining artificial colors, but sodas can be very acidic. Some sodas have a pH below 2.5. Water is neutral at ph 7 (though tap water may vary slightly), and tooth enamel begins to dissolve at 5.5. The scale is logarithmic, so 2.5 is actually 1000 times more acidic than 5.5.
However, they are not all so bad. Root beer has a pH similar to actual beer, around 4.0, though it still has artificial colors and lots of sugar.
There are also many holiday beverages that can cause damage to your teeth. Egg nog, for example, is not only high in sugar, the fat content helps it to cling to your teeth, allowing more time for bacteria to feed on the sugars. Hot chocolate has a similar problem, with the addition of the dark staining compounds.
Mulled cider is a delicious treat during cooler weather, but it can be very bad on the teeth. It’s high in sugar and can be very acidic. It can also contribute to tooth staining.
If you’re drinking alcohol at a party, try to pick drinks that are less acidic and have fewer sugars. Wine can be very bad for your teeth. It’s highly acidic (pH 3), and red wine also has staining compounds. Sweet wines can have a lot of sugar, so a dry white wine is probably your best choice.
Beer is a better choice, overall, with much less acid (pH about 4, depending on the beer). Beer lacks sugar, though it has carbohydrates that can be converted to sugars. Dark beers can stain your teeth the same as red wine. So a pale beer is best for your teeth.
Even better, though, is straight spirits, which contain no sugar, have fewer staining compounds, and are higher in pH (5 or so), but not all are created equal. Rum has more sugar and a lower pH than whiskey.
Mixed drinks, though, can bring sugar and acid to your liquor, so avoid getting a Jack and Coke or a whiskey sour.
Water is the best possible drink for your teeth. Not only is it sugar-free, stain-free, and non-acidic, it can wash away the residue of foods and other drinks.
You don’t have to drink only water, but try to put a glass of water in between each of your other drinks.
Of course, it’s okay to indulge sometimes. Keeping an eye on your choices will keep tooth damage to a minimum, and making regular preventive dental appointments will allow us to detect problems before they become major ones.
To learn more about keeping your teeth healthy and attractive, please contact Nicolas A. Ravon, DDS, MSD today.