Could the choices you make regarding the beverages you drink, choices you thought were supporting the health of your body, actually be harming your teeth?
You eat nutritious foods. You exercise regularly. You get restful sleep. And, you’ve even traded in unhealthy beverages for healthier options.
But, just how healthy are those supposed “health drinks” for your teeth?
There are so many drinks that are marketed as healthy:
- Some are enhanced with vitamins and minerals.
- Some are healthy compared to the beverage they are claimed to be an alternative to.
- Some contain probiotics powerful in promoting the health of your gut.
- Some boast benefits in the area of physical performance (before, during, and after).
- Some have been lauded for their benefits to your health for decades.
- And, some are fairly new but boast some powerful claims.
And, it’s true that some of those can indeed prove beneficial to certain aspects of your overall health, but how do they stack up in regards to the health of your teeth?
Many beverages that are considered ‘healthy’ can wreak havoc on your teeth…even your mouth as a whole!
And, the last thing you want to do is consume something that you think is beneficial to one aspect of your health but turns out to be hindering your health in another way…here, your teeth.
So, what liquids make the list?
Below are 8 of the top ‘health drinks’ that we’ve found to be detrimental to the health of your teeth.
1- Fruit juices
Fruit juices are often thought of as healthy drinks, especially for children.
They are generally seen as healthy alternatives to sugary, artificially colored and flavored sodas. But, are they really any better than chugging down a pop or any other non-carbonated sugary drink marketed for children (you’re not off the hook here either, adults)?
The sugar content in fruit juices, even those labeled “all natural” or “100% juice” is extremely high.
And, sugar is a mortal enemy to your mouth.
Your mouth is filled with bacteria, and like those in your gut, they are needed. But, also like the bacteria in your gut, you don’t want that mixture of good and bad bacteria in your mouth to tip the scale towards the bad guys.
Sugar does just that!
Sugar feeds the bad bacteria in your mouth and on your teeth. This increase in bad bacteria creates an acidic environment that erodes the enamel on your teeth and causes tooth decay.
2- Vitamin Water
Vitamin water is a popular drink touted as healthy. Come on, it says vitamin right in the name! It’s full of vitamins and minerals, and it’s…water! It’s surely not on this list, right?
One problem with vitamin water is that it, too, is loaded with sugar. But, since we just went over those ill effects in reference to fruit juices, I’ll spare you the repeat.
The second problem with this ‘health drink’ is its acid content. Unfortunately, vitamin water isn’t alone here. But, its acidity, in particular, rivals stomach acid.
Consuming acidic drinks can lead to permanent dental erosion where your teeth lose their structure due to what is known as chemical dissolution from the acids in these types of drinks.
3- Sports Drinks
I figured we might as well move on to sports drinks now since they are a killer combo of the last two drinks.
But, athletes use these drinks all the time, so they’ve got to be beneficial, right?
Though they’re often praised for their electrolyte content, promising to replenish needful glycogen and regulate body fluids often lost during vigorous exercise, these drinks can wreak havoc on your teeth!
As far as sugar, an average 20 ounce bottle of one popular sports drink has a whopping 36 grams.
The same brand has a pH level of 2.4. As far as the pH scale is concerned, the lower the number, the higher the acidity.
The enamel on your teeth begin to dissolve at a pH of 5.3.
In other words, maybe pouring the cooler on the coach’s head is better than drinking the stuff!
4- Sugar Free
To clear things up right off the bat, we’re not referring to naturally sugar free beverages like water, tea, or coffee.
Here, we’re talking about sugar-free varieties of sodas, vitamin waters, sports drinks, and other beverages that are marketed as, and thought to be, a healthier option than their sugar-laden counterparts.
Many folks reach for these types of beverages thinking they are making a healthy choice, but what can these drinks do to your teeth?
If your sugar-free drink still contains caffeine, and you don’t counteract the effects of caffeine by upping your water intake, this can lead to dehydration.
When you aren’t properly hydrated, your saliva production is compromised and can lead to dry mouth.
Saliva plays a crucial role in keeping your mouth from becoming too acidic, and as we learned earlier, an acidic environment in your mouth leads to dental erosion.
Maybe you’re thinking, my preferred sugar-free beverage isn’t caffeinated, so this doesn’t apply to me.
Unfortunately, caffeine isn’t the only concern here. Most of the artificial sweeteners that make up sugar free drinks contain chemicals that soften the enamel on your teeth.
Softened enamel can actually be “brushed away” leaving your teeth vulnerable to cavities as the inner layer of the enamel has been exposed.
5- Diet Drinks
Just the word diet insinuates that you’re doing something to either improve your health (through nutrition), or you’re replacing a higher calorie version of the food or drink.
While diet beverages cut down calories, and this generally means cutting out sugar, there are definitely pitfalls with these drinks when it comes to your teeth.
Concerning soda, the diet versions do just as much damage to the enamel of your teeth, causing it to both weaken and dissolve.
In fact, one study found that diet and sugar-free sodas caused slightly more dental erosion than even regular soda. After two weeks, the findings showed regular soda had caused tooth enamel to dissolve at 2.8mg and diet soda caused 3 mg of enamel erosion.
6- Dairy Milk
I know you’re shocked at this one, but I promise you’re not being punk’d.
Though milk has been hailed as the healthiest of drinks, specifically for your bones and teeth, due to its calcium contents, the lactose that is also found in dairy milk can actually harm your teeth.
Lactose is a type of sugar, there’s no way around it. And, like any other sugar, lactose increases the level of acidity in your mouth, which causes demineralization, damaging your teeth.
Okay, this one hurts y’all. Besides being a favorite, kombucha just packs some big gut health benefits by being loaded with probiotics.
So, I suppose we’ll just have to heap this one into the milk pile then, both being praised for their healthy components, yet potentially causing harm in your mouth.
In the case of this slightly bubbly, vinegary beverage, acid is the culprit yet again.
Kombucha is considered to be highly acidic which can wear away the enamel on your teeth, and in the case of this probiotic ‘health drink,’ can lead to a loss of minerals from enamel erosion and tooth sensitivity.
8- Flavored Water (and sparkling water)
Hydration is key, right? Some health and fitness experts recommend drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water per day.
Heck, even the popular trainer and P90X creator, Tony Horton will tell you, “drink your water, people!”
So, we do! And, to achieve our healthy hydration goals, we often add flavor to the water we drink via powdered, 0 calorie mixes, lemon or lime wedges (or juice), or we opt for sparkling water.
Unfortunately, each of these additions or substitutions can…you guessed it…wreak havoc on your teeth!
Both lemon and lime are highly acidic and over time will cause erosion to tooth enamel.
Flavored mixes contain citric and other fruit acids which remove calcium from your teeth and cause serious erosion.
While unflavored sparkling water is said to not be acidic, flavored sparkling waters can contain the same citric acids, and some flavored waters have proven to be just as acidic as orange juice, causing significant enamel erosion.
Do You Have To Ditch Them All?
Okay, I have to admit, that list brought out a few “NOOOs” from me, because I love my sparkling water and kombucha.
Thankfully, we don’t have to live in a world without our favorites…primarily those favorites that are considered otherwise healthy.
Some of those items, despite the intense marketing efforts behind them, are just no good when it comes to your health, teeth or otherwise.
But, what about the ones that promise real benefits to your health, like my beloved kombucha for instance. Probiotics? Gut health, anyone?
The thing is, we can sometimes take things too far. We love the taste of pizza, and so we can find ourselves overindulging.
The same is true with foods or drinks that claim to benefit our health.
Too much of a good thing, can be a bad thing!
So, if you do find yourself unable to live without LaCroix, for instance, keep moderation at the forefront of your drinking habits and incorporate the following to protect your teeth from the occasional indulgence:
- Brush your teeth 30-60 minutes after consuming any carbonated “health drink.”
- Choose water above all else, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! The more water you drink, the less likely you’ll be to consume these other drinks in the first place, but you’ll also ensure adequate saliva production which helps keep pH levels regulated in your mouth.
- Consume these drinks rarely, with meals, and through a straw to minimize acid exposure.
- Avoid citrus or fruit flavors which have been known to cause the most damage.
You can also try this “odd” bubblegum that rebuilds gums overnight.
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