Sweetened beverages are no longer enjoyed as the occasional treat but are often drank daily by Americans. According to the CDC, 63 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 or older reported drinking at least one sugar-sweetened beverage per day. If your sweet tooth is affecting your smile, it’s important to consider healthier alternatives. Here’s a closer look at how sugary drinks impact oral health and what beverages are best for a healthy smile.

Sugar and Tooth Decay

Tooth decay occurs when acids within the mouth attack tooth enamel and dentin, causing small holes or “cavities” to develop. These harmful acids are found in plaque, the sticky film that forms over teeth. When you consume sugar, it interacts with bacteria in the mouth to produce acids, which gradually dissolve the protective coating on the teeth. If not resolved, tooth decay can develop into tooth abscesses, which may require the removal of the infected tooth.

Worst Drinks for a Healthy Smile

Today, many beverages on the market are laden with sweeteners designed to give drinks their appealing flavor. Unfortunately, many of these drinks contain large amounts of sugar which can be harmful to your oral health. Some of the worst sugary drinks for your teeth include:

  • Soda: Sodas are among the worst sugary drinks due to their high sugar content and carbonation. In addition to contributing to dental decay, dark-colored sodas can stain and discolor teeth.
  • Juice: While many people believe juice is a healthier alternative to soda, this is not always true. A glass of orange or apple juice can contain almost as much sugar as a glass of soda.
  • Sports Drinks: Similar to soda, sports drinks often contain large amounts of sugar. While the occasional sports drink can be useful for replacing electrolytes, it’s important not to overindulge.
  • Energy Drinks: The use of energy drinks is increasing, especially among the younger generation. Unfortunately, energy drinks are full of sugar that is not only bad for your oral health, but your general health as well.
  • Sparkling Water: While it may not seem like water would be bad for your teeth, it can be due to its acidity. With a high pH level, sparkling water can erode teeth similar to other acidic drinks, such as orange juice.
  • Coffee: If you drink coffee without any additives, coffee can actually be good for you. However, sugars, creamers, and other sugary additives can be harsh on your oral health.
  • Teas: Many teas on the market are great for your health, such as brewed black and green unflavored teas. However, sugary teas or teas with added sugars or syrups are generally not a good option.

Healthier Drink Alternatives for Good Oral Health

Choose carefully when selecting beverages, opting for drinks with little to no sugar. Water is the optimal choice as it contains no sugars and can help neutralize the acids in the mouth. If you prefer a beverage with more flavor, consider unsweetened tea or diluted juice.

Milk has long been touted for its ability to create strong teeth and bones. While the calcium in milk is important for good oral health, the lactose found in milk is a type of sugar. While milk is a healthy drink option, be sure to always brush afterward to prevent plaque from forming and harming your teeth.

There are also other things you can do to prevent the beverages you drink from harming your teeth:

  • Drink, don’t sip: Avoid sipping on sugary beverages as sipping on drinks over long durations gives bacteria time to feed on sugars and create decay. If possible, drink sugary beverages in one sitting. After drinking a sugary beverage, drink water to help rinse away the sugars and neutralize acids in the mouth.
  • Practice good oral health: Don’t skimp on your oral health routine. Remember to always brush at least twice per day, followed by a thorough floss and rinse. It’s also important to visit your dentist regularly for cleanings.
  • Rely on fluoride: Fluoride can help improve your dental health and prevent cavities. Drink tap water if your community has fluoridated water. Also, ask your general dentist about fluoride treatments to help protect your teeth from tooth decay.

Contact Sedaros Oral Facial Surgery & Dental Implants

Despite your best efforts to maintain your oral health, there may come a time when you need the expertise of an oral surgeon in Melbourne FL. At Sedaros Oral Facial Surgery & Dental Implants, Dr. Sedaros offers a wide range of procedures, such as wisdom tooth removal, dental implants, bone grafting, and full mouth rehabilitation. For more information or to schedule a consultation for oral surgery in Melbourne, contact our office at 321.610.7868.