October 22, 2020
It’s finally the time of year where you can go outside in the cool weather and appreciate the beautiful autumn leaves changing color. Not only does this mean that it’s time to break out your favorite boots and sweaters; it is also time to enjoy some of your favorite hot beverages. But have you ever thought about what they do to your teeth? Continue reading to learn more from your dentist about the effects of hot drinks on your smile and what you can do to prevent them.
How Are Hot Drinks Bad for My Teeth?
Drinking hot drinks has two main effects on your smile:
- Tooth Decay: Coffee doesn’t cause very much harm on its own when it comes to tooth decay and periodontal disease, however, the slightly acidic nature of the beverage can soften the protective enamel, leaving your teeth more vulnerable to sugar. When you add sweeteners to your hot drinks, this is when tooth decay can become an issue. This is especially the case with flavored syrups. Hot chocolate is also damaging because of how much sugar it contains. The less sugar in your beverage, the better.
- Staining: Even though this doesn’t necessarily harm your oral health, it can hurt your confidence. When you drink tea and coffee for long periods of time, you’re bound to experience some staining. This is because coffee and many teas contain an ingredient called “tannins.” This is known for its bitter flavors and darker pigments. The discoloration that is caused can be particularly resistant, even if you have a good oral hygiene routine.
How Can Negative Effects of Hot Drinks Be Prevented?
Here are a few ways that you can lessen the effects that hot beverages have on your smile:
- Rinse with Water: After you finish your hot beverage, it’s a good idea to drink a glass of water in order to rinse away leftover particles that are lingering in your mouth.
- Use a Straw: It is a good idea to use a straw whenever you’re drinking anything other than water. This way, you are limiting the contact of the liquid to your teeth.
- Drink Quickly: Instead of sipping on your coffee or tea all afternoon, it is better to drink it quickly. Your teeth are especially vulnerable to damage right after you have a sweetened beverage, so limiting this time helps to prevent additional damage to your teeth.
- Wait to Brush: You may think that brushing your teeth right after having a hot drink limits the effects. The issue with this is that your enamel is soft after you have an acidic beverage. If you brush afterwards, you risk damaging the protective layer of your teeth. You should wait about 45 minutes to an hour before picking up your toothbrush.
You don’t need to be cutting out your morning brew or afternoon tea this autumn, but for the sake of your teeth, these precautionary measures can help. This way, you can come out of the season with a beautiful, healthy smile!
About the Author
Dr. Ukti Phadnis earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine from the UConn School of Dental Medicine and has taken numerous continuing education courses to expand her knowledge in the field. She has completed advanced training focusing on many aspects of the field including cosmetic dentistry. To learn more about maintaining a healthy smile or to schedule an appointment at her office in West Hartford, visit her website or call (860) 236-4249.
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