October 22, 2020
Now that it’s been feeling more like sweater weather, there are a few joys that you are once again introduced to. You get to pull out your favorite boots and coats, the leaves on the trees are changing into beautiful colors, and sipping on your morning coffee just got more satisfying. Whether you’ve jumped on the pumpkin spice train or you prefer a hot cup of tea instead, you may be asking yourself – are hot drinks bad for my teeth? Continue reading to learn more about how hot drinks impact your smile.
What Impact Do Hot Drinks Have on Your Smile?
Even though hot drinks are delicious, they can have some negative effects that you may not be thinking about. Here are the two main issues that your favorite hot beverages have on your teeth:
- Tooth Decay: Coffee doesn’t affect the teeth too much when it comes to teeth decay or gum disease, but this beverage is slightly acidic, which can soften the enamel. When sugar or flavored syrups are added to your hot drink, this is when it can cause tooth decay. Hot chocolate is also a damaging autumn beverage because of all the added sugars.
- Discoloration: Most people already know that tea and coffee are known for causing stains when they are consumed for long periods of time. This is because coffee and some teas contain an ingredient called “tannins” which is known for its bitter flavors and dark pigments. These stains are particularly resistant to brushing. Hot drinks that are not rich in tannins, like green and herbal teas, are not as likely to cause staining.
How Can You Prevent the Effects of Hot Drinks on Teeth?
The most obvious way to reduce these negative effects is to drink hot drinks less often. However, if you want to enjoy one of these toasty beverages on a chilly morning, take the following steps to protect your teeth:
- Sip Quickly: If you are slowing drinking your hot beverage all day, you will leave your teeth vulnerable to damage for a longer period of time.
- Rinse with Water: After you finish your drink, have a glass of water to help wash away leftover particles that are lingering in your mouth.
- Use a Straw: Always use a straw when you are drinking a beverage other than water. This will help to reduce the contact between the liquid and your teeth.
- Wait to Brush: You don’t want to brush your teeth right away after having a hot beverage, even though this may seem like a good idea. Your teeth are more susceptible to damage after having a sweetened or acidic drink, so you should wait about 45 minutes to an hour before brushing.
You don’t need to give up your favorite autumn treat. Just be mindful of your choices and take the steps listed above so you can come out of the season with a beautiful and healthy smile.
About the Author
Dr. James M. Peery Jr. is a well experienced dentist who has been serving patients at his private practice in Lynchburg for four decades. He is currently a member of the American Dental Association and the local Rotary Club. He is also a former President of the Lynchburg Dental Society. To learn more about maintaining good oral health or to schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (434) 847-5331.
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