It’s not just what we eat which affects the health of our teeth, but what we drink, too. It is estimated that by the age of 5, 1 in 4 children have some degree of tooth decay, while 1 in 3 adults also have tooth decay. Water has a positive effect on our oral health.
Just 10% of adults have what is considered to be excellent oral health, which is classified as having 21 or more natural teeth, at least 18 sound and untreated teeth as well as no decay or hardened plaque known as calculus. Specific oral hygiene behaviours such as regular brushing and flossing can greatly impact the health of your teeth, so too can the food and drink you consume.
What should we drink for healthy teeth?
When considering our dental health, plain tap water is an excellent choice of drink because it contains no sugar. The sugar and acid found in many drinks are largely to blame for dental erosion and caries.
Both bottled and tap water contain fluoride which helps to reduce the risk of tooth decay. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral and can make tooth enamel more resistant to acid, thus preventing erosion.
Drinks which have a lower pH are more likely to cause dental erosion compared to neutral or alkaline alternatives. Drinks which are considered acidic, include:
· Fruit juice
· Soda/fizzy drinks
o Including diet varieties
o Red is slightly more acidic than white but both are damaging to teeth
Keeping your teeth healthy is important, particularly as you only get one adult set in your lifetime and dental work can be costly as well as uncomfortable. If you do fancy the drinks above, try swapping for a tooth-friendlier alternative which is low in acid, such as:
· Tap water
· Black coffee (no sugar)
· Black tea (no sugar)
If you do drink an acidic drink, try to have it with a meal rather than drinking it in between mealtimes. Once you’ve eaten your meal with your drink rinse your mouth with plain water to further dilute the acid in your mouth. You should also wait at least half an hour before brushing your teeth because brushing too soon can cause damage. The best way to avoid tooth damage is to drink acidic drinks in moderation.
What about a dry mouth?
Most of the saliva consists of water and so when you are low on saliva you are likely to experience a dry mouth. A dry mouth can make it difficult to swallow or chew, plus saliva is the body’s first defence against tooth decay because it washes away leftover food, strengthens teeth and helps you to swallow. Staying hydrated helps your body to produce saliva at a good rate and help to prevent a dry mouth.
Another great advantage of water is it is calorie-free and this has many health benefits. In fact, those who consume up to 2 sugary drinks per day are over a quarter more likely to develop type II diabetes. So, switching sugary drinks for water not only keeps your teeth in tip-top condition but also keeps health conditions at bay.