Now that autumn is here; it’s time to break out sweaters, boots, and your favorite hot drinks. Whether you love the pumpkin spice latte trend or you prefer other beverages like mochas and herbal teas, you should know what they do to your teeth over time. Continue reading to learn more from your dentist about how hot drinks affect the appearance and the health of your smile.
Are Hot Drinks Bad for My Teeth?
There are a couple of different ways that hot drinks can have an impact on your smile:
- Tooth Decay: Coffee on its own doesn’t do much harm when it comes to the development of cavities or periodontal disease. However, this beverage is slightly acidic, which means that it can soften your protective enamel, leaving it more vulnerable to decay-causing bacteria in the mouth. If you are adding sugar or flavored syrups to your drinks, this is where you’re in trouble. Hot chocolate is also damaging because it is loaded with sugar.
- Discoloration: You probably already know that coffee is known for staining your teeth. This is because coffee and many types of tea contain an ingredient called “tannins.” This is known for its bitter flavor and dark pigments. Stains that are caused by this ingredient are particularly resistant, even for regular brushers. Beverages like green and herbal teas are less likely to cause staining because they aren’t as rich in tannins.
How Can the Negative Effects of Hot Drinks Be Prevented?
Despite there being negative consequences of drinking popular hot drinks, there are some ways that you can prevent both tooth decay and discoloration without having to cut your favorite fall drinks out of your diet:
- Have Some Water: After you finish your coffee or tea, have a glass of water. This will wash away leftover particles that could cause damage. After all, water is so good for every part of your body; you’re bound to benefit from having a glass.
- Drink Quickly: You don’t need to chug your hot beverage, but it would be better for your smile if you drink it in a shorter period of time as opposed to sipping on it all day. This is because your teeth are particularly vulnerable to damage right after your drink. The acidic nature of the beverage softens your enamel, and you are more likely to experience decay.
Use a Straw: Using a straw when you are drinking anything other than water is a good idea. It limits the contact between the liquid and your teeth, lowering your chances of both decay and discoloration.
- Don’t Brush Right Away: Since your enamel is softer after having sweet and acidic drinks, brushing right away could cause damage. You should wait approximately 45 minutes to an hour before brushing your teeth.
There isn’t a need to completely discontinue drinking your favorite autumn beverages. By being aware and taking these precautionary steps, you can come out of the season with a healthy and beautiful smile!
About the Author
Dr. Robert A. Sue is a well-experienced dentist with more than four decades of experience in the field. He is a member of multiple professional organizations, including the American Dental Association, California Dental Association, and the San Fernando Valley Dental Society. For more information on maintaining a healthy smile or to schedule an appointment at Dr. Sue’s office in Glendale, visit his website or call 818-243-3838.