Why sipping is bad for your dental health

Image credit: Unsplash+

If you think sugar, soda, and sticky candy are bad for your teeth, you’re right. But there’s something even worse: sipping.

Think about the coffee that’s on your desk, the tea you drink throughout the day, and every cup you don’t finish in one go.

Research shows that acid is the main factor in whether a drink can damage your teeth. And almost every drink available, including bottled water, is acidic to some degree.

Unless your drink is plain water, drinking a beverage for hours on end is detrimental to your oral health.

“Enamel is the hardest mineralized substance in your body, but prolonged exposure to acid, especially acidic liquids, can cause teeth to demineralize, erode, and become more susceptible to tooth decay,” says Dante Devoti, DMD, assistant professor of dentistry at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.

“Drinking a cup of coffee, tea, juice, or other beverage all at once is better for your teeth than drinking one cup throughout the day.”

We asked Devoti to explain what damage drinking beverages does to your teeth.

The role of oral pH

To have a healthy mouth, the acid-base balance in the mouth should be as neutral as possible.

Science Class Reminder: pH measures how acidic or basic (alkaline) something is on a scale of 1 to 14. A pH value of 7 is neutral. The lower the pH (less than 7), the more acidic. The higher the pH (more than 7), the more alkaline.

The longer the acid stays in the mouth, the faster damage occurs. Saliva washes away food particles and neutralizes oral pH. But it is not instantaneous.

“When you eat or drink anything other than still water, it takes about 60 minutes for your saliva to increase the pH from the more harmful acidic range back to the more protective neutral range,” says Devoti.

Sipping increases tooth erosion

If you sip the same cup regularly throughout the day, saliva doesn’t have time to raise your oral pH, so teeth won’t be remineralized and strengthened.

Sustained low pH results in an environment in which teeth are at increased risk of erosion as tooth structure breaks down.

Additionally, says Devoti, “adding sugar, cream, or flavorings to coffee, tea, and other drinks makes them even more harmful to your teeth, especially when sipping.”

Soda and your teeth

Acid plus sugar is the worst combination for oral health. “Drinking soda is essentially a sugary acid bath for your teeth,” says Devoti. Sodas have a pH between 3 and 4. Teeth begin to decay when the oral pH is below 5.5.

Additionally, the sugar found in sodas is a food source for harmful bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria consume sugar and convert it to acid, lowering oral pH even further. “Sugary drinks create a cycle of destruction for your teeth,” says Devoti.

That doesn’t mean sugar-free sodas and diet sodas are safe for teeth: They’re acidic, and the substitute chemicals have other drawbacks.

The final result

“With repeated, prolonged exposure, almost all foods and drinks can be considered harmful to teeth,” says Devoti.

“Good oral habits go beyond brushing and flossing to recognizing how eating and drinking habits, such as frequent snacking or drinking throughout the day, can equally impact the health of our teeth.”

If you care about dental health, please read studies about the best foods for teeth and gum health and how to prevent and cure gum disease.

For more information about dental health, check out recent studies on diabetes and gum disease, as well as the results showing that this diet can help treat gum disease.

follow us on Twitter for more articles on this topic.

Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: LauraCoffey@worldtimetodays.com.

Related Articles

Back to top button