Keeping your teeth healthy and white takes a lot of work. From daily brushing and flossing to avoiding foods that can negatively impact your dental health, you take a lot of steps to earn your healthy smile. Especially if you have braces, it’s important to take good care of your mouth to prevent decay and gum disease later in life. One of the easiest ways to protect your teeth? Drinking with a straw!
It may sound simple… and it is! Drinking with a straw can offer you a handful of benefits with little to no downside. Read on for more information from Dr. Andy in Parma, OH (just outside of Cleveland) on how this simple trick can help you keep your pearly whites.
Benefits of Drinking Through Straws
They’re Good for Sensitive Teeth
If you have sensitive teeth, drinks that should be cool and refreshing or hot and relaxing can be intensely painful! Straws can help you avoid the pain by making sure your beverages bypass your teeth and minimize contact. It’s common for teeth to feel sensitive for a short time after your braces are removed, so this can help ease the transition when you complete your orthodontic treatment.
It’s important to note that if your teeth are sensitive to drinks that aren’t at extreme temperatures, you might have a cavity or other dental health issue that you should get checked out as soon as possible!
It Helps Prevent Cavities & Reduce Erosion
When you drink a sugary drink, the bacteria on your mouth feeds off the sugar and leaves behind an acidic substance. This substance, when not properly cleaned, is what eventually leads to decay and cavities. Acidic drinks like citrus juices or even sugar-free sodas can also have a similar effect that erodes the enamel of your teeth. Drinking through a straw can help prevent this by reducing the volume of these damaging drinks that will contact your teeth.
Protect Your Teeth from Discoloration
Popular drinks like coffee or soda will, over time, stain your teeth to a degree that can be very noticeable. It’s difficult to clean away this discoloration, and while tooth whitening options are available and while tooth whitening is often a viable option, the best solution is prevention.
When drinking through a straw, the discoloring agents in your favorite drinks bypass touching the front of your teeth, which means they won’t directly be affected. Like we mentioned before, you won’t be able to completely avoid these drinks touching your teeth, but when it comes to preventing discoloration, straws can go a long way towards helping.
Keep in mind that you should try to avoid drinking any beverages that could lead to discoloration while you’re wearing braces. For adults that are wearing braces, that means stay away from coffee! While straws help protect your teeth, you’re still better off drinking water!
You’ll Finish Drinks Faster
While this may differ from person to person, it’s largely believed that drinking through a straw causes you to finish your drink quicker. When enjoying healthy drinks like water, it can encourage you to refill your cup more frequently and ultimately drink more water throughout the day. When it comes to drinking sodas that harm your teeth, it can noticeably reduce the amount of time you expose your teeth to any amount of the acidity.
It’s often mentioned in dental health that the worst thing you can do with a soda is slowly sip at it over a long period of time. It exposes your teeth to damaging acids and sugar for the entire duration, plus about 30 minutes after you finish. When finishing a drink quickly, it allows your mouth to naturally work towards cleaning away any remnants of the acid.
I Heard Straws Don’t Actually Help
It is true that there’s some debate on the effectiveness of straws as a means of combating the damage done by sugary drinks and those that leave stains. The reality is that a straw is certainly no magic fix, but it can help if used correctly. Try to use the straw further than just past your lips, otherwise the liquids will end up in the same place as drinking without a straw. When it comes to acidic drinks, minimizing the amount of time and volume that they contact your teeth will help you keep a healthier smile.
Any time you drink an acidic substance, you’re bound to suffer some effects of the acidity on your teeth or gums. Try to follow up any sugary drink with water to help wash away any remaining sugar or acidity. Also remember not to brush for at least 30 minutes following consumption of a sugary or acidic drink, as your enamel is more vulnerable until it’s washed away.
Using Invisalign®? Don’t Rely On Straws to Protect Them!
There are some who think that you can use a straw to continue wearing your Invisalign® braces while you drink. It’s not true! Just like when you eat or drink anything else, you need to remove your aligners until after you’ve finished. It’s impossible to ensure that your straw will completely prevent any of your beverage from coming into contact or getting inside your aligner.
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