We’re in the thick of winter here in Alabama. For most people, this means heavy coats, wool socks, and maybe even a toboggan with your favorite team’s logo. Although our winters may not be the harshest in the country, we still have our favorite ways of staying warm, including enjoying our favorite hot beverage.
Whether it’s your preferred cup of tea or your tried and true coffee order at the drive thru, most of us have our go-to hot drinks. But how do these hot drinks affect our oral health and how can we negate any negative effects they may have? Let’s take a look.
Hot Drinks and Your Oral Health
Most people don’t think about the adverse consequences to their oral health that hot drinks can have. These effects are manifested in two distinct ways: discoloration and tooth decay.
If you drink coffee or tea on a regular basis, you probably already know that these beverages, delicious as they may be, cause stains on your teeth when consumed over a long period of time. This staining is the result of the tannins found in coffee and some teas. These tannins are known for their dark pigments and bitter taste.
Stains left by tannins can be difficult to remove with just brushing alone. Try enjoying a nice cup of green or herbal tea to get your caffeine fix, as these options are less likely to cause staining.
Perhaps a worse consequence than staining, tooth decay can be an even bigger problem for warm beverage drinkers. Coffee poses a slight risk by itself because of its mildly acidic nature. But coffee or tea alone aren’t likely to decay your teeth or enamel when they are enjoyed plain. What puts you at risk for tooth decay is when you start adding in your favorite syrups or sugar. Avoid these additives as much as you can and follow the steps below to mitigate the oral health risks they pose.
Preventing the Negative Effects of Hot Drinks
Besides cutting down on your intake of these beverages, there are a few things you can do to slow their negative effects on your teeth and boost your oral health:
- Grab a Straw: Whenever you drink a beverage other than water, you should always use a straw. Straws help reduce the contact between your teeth and the beverage you’re sipping.
- Don’t Drink Slow: By slowly drinking your hot beverage throughout the day, you are leaving your teeth at risk of damage for an extended period of time. Sip your drink quickly to decrease the time of exposure for your teeth.
- Water Rinse: Keep a glass of water nearby after you finish your warm drink and rinse your mouth thoroughly with it. This helps wash away any lingering particles from the beverage.
- Don’t Brush Right Away: After you enjoy your hot drink, especially if it’s acidic or sweetened, your teeth are more susceptible to damage. Although it may seem like a good idea, don’t brush your teeth right away. Wait 45 minutes to an hour before you brush to give your teeth time to recover.
At LeCroy Dental, we are experts in everything oral health. Our practice strives to provide our patients with attentive, yet compassionate care in a comfortable environment. From routine cleaning to implants, we offer a full range of dental services.
Has it been a while since you’ve seen your dentist? Contact us today to schedule your appointment and see what makes LeCroy Dental special. We can’t wait to see you!