You probably already know that certain foods such as sugar-laden treats are bad for your teeth and that drinking red wine results in discoloration of tooth enamel. However, you may not equate some of the beverages that you consume on a regular basis with tooth erosion and other dental problems, but unfortunately, there are some beverages that are simply bad for your teeth. Following are three types of beverages that can erode your tooth enamel or cause your teeth to be stained either directly or indirectly.
Sports and Energy Drinks
If you have switched to sports or energy drinks instead of sugary sodas and fruit juices, you may be damaging your teeth more than you think. The acid content in these drinks is enough to cause significant enamel erosion, and certain types are even worse than leading soft drinks. Researchers have found that noticeable damage to the enamel occurs in as little as five days after regular exposure to sports and energy drinks begins. Because acid content varies widely among brands and even among flavors of the same brands, shop around to find the one that contains the least amount of acid if you are determined to consume these types of beverages. Always make certain to rinse your mouth out thoroughly with water after consuming sports or energy drinks.
If you're a wine aficionado who has switched to white wine from red in order to avoid staining your teeth, you may be surprised to know that even though white wine won't directly stain your teeth, it can cause your teeth to become more vulnerable to staining from other substances such as tea or coffee. As with sports and energy drinks, the acid content in white wine is the culprit. The good news, however, is that you can minimize or even prevent staining by watching what else you eat or drink with white wine. Don't follow a meal served with white wine with black tea, for instance, or enjoy a piece of blackberry pie or a handful of fresh blueberries with your wine. Brushing your teeth immediately after consuming wine high in acid is not recommended, because it distributes the acid thoroughly among the teeth. The best course of action is to simply allow the natural saliva in your mouth to do its job and neutralize the acid -- wait at least 40 minutes before brushing your teeth after enjoying the last glass of wine of the evening.
Beer can also stain the teeth, and like wine, it contains acid that can cause erosion of tooth enamel. Drinking dark craft beer that has been made with black malt and roasted barley can result in stains on the teeth. As with wine, sports, and energy drinks, acid content varies widely in beer. Keep in mind that the lower the pH level of the beer, the higher it is in acid. If your teeth are damaged or sensitive, avoid consuming beer with pH levels lower than 5.5 -- this information is usually available on craft beer labels. Steer clear of sour beers, because they can have a pH as low as 3.2. As with wine, take care not to eat foods containing staining compounds while or immediately after enjoying a craft beer or two.
You may be thinking that you will need to give up all pleasurable eating and drinking in order to have healthy teeth, but this is not the case. Any of the beverages listed above can be consumed in moderation by most people without serious damage to the teeth. Simply follow the precautions listed above, and be sure to see your dentist if you have questions about everyday beverages and your dental health.