Summer Smarts for Your Teeth
Should you drink lemonade or water on a hot, sunny day? Is chewing ice good or bad for your teeth?
While ice may be your best friend on a hot summer’s day, it’s no friend to your teeth. That’s because chewing on hard substances, such as ice, can leave your teeth vulnerable to a dental emergency such as a broken tooth and can even damage enamel. Tip: Use ice to cool your drinks, not as something to eat.
Let’s face it. When you’re hot, you sweat. But before you reach for a sports drink, consider the impact that beverage may have on your mouth. While their name implies they’re healthy, many sports and energy drinks feature sugar as a top ingredient. If you can’t live without your sports drink of choice, check the label to make sure it is low in sugar, or you can always drink water instead. While there’s nothing like a tall cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day, the truth is that frequent exposure to acid and sugar can harm your teeth. Acidic foods can erode enamel, and too much sugar can lead to tooth decay. Water is always best when trying to stay cool and hydrated.
Is the satisfying fizz of your favorite sparkling water putting you at risk for tooth decay? Because any drink with carbonation—including sparkling water—has a higher acid level, some reports have questioned whether sipping sparkling water will weaken your tooth enamel (the hard outer shell of your teeth where cavities first form). So, is sparkling water affective your teeth? According to available research, sparkling water is generally fine for your teeth—and here’s why. In a study using teeth that were removed as a part of treatment and donated for research, researchers tested to see whether sparkling water would attack tooth enamel more aggressively than regular lab water. The result? The two forms of water were about the same in their effects on tooth enamel. This finding suggests that, even though sparkling water is slightly more acidic than ordinary water, it’s all just water to your teeth.
Sparkling water is far better for your teeth than sugary drinks. In addition, be sure to drink plenty of regular, fluoridated water, too—it’s the best beverage for your teeth. Water with fluoride naturally helps fight cavities, washes away the leftover food that cavity-causing bacteria feast on, and keeps your mouth from becoming dry (which can put you at a higher risk of cavities). Be mindful of what’s in your sparkling water. Citrus-flavored waters often have higher acid levels that do increase the risk of damage to your enamel. Plan to enjoy these in one sitting or with meals. This way, you aren’t sipping it throughout the day and exposing your teeth over and over again to the slightly higher level of acid it contains. Sparkling water brands with added sugar can no longer be considered just sparkling water. They are a sugar-sweetened beverage, which can contribute to your risk of developing cavities. So remember—sparkling or not—plain water is always the best choice.