Dr. Kim's Blog

Posted on by Kim Okamura DDS

Does Using a Straw Really Prevent Cavities?

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woman drinking her cocktail through a straw to prevent cavities

The latest mini-trend among those who are conscious about their oral health is to always use a straw when consuming highly sugary, dark-colored, or acidic drinks. However, does using a straw really protect your teeth against cavity-causing bacteria?

Stop Acid Erosion

Sugar isn’t the only culprit when it comes to tooth decay. High levels of acid in everyday foods and drinks can be just as harmful. From oranges to wine, high acidic food and beverages can wear away your tooth enamel. This decaying process can cause tooth sensitivity and discoloration. If you drink acidic beverages, reducing their contact with your teeth by using a straw and finishing the drink quickly could help your fight against tooth erosion.

Reduces Staining

Using a straw with those sugary or strongly colored beverages can help reduce the number of stains they cause on the surfaces of your teeth. Drinks like soda or coffee can leave a real impact on the whiteness of your teeth. Drinking these beverages through a straw gives the beverages less exposure to your teeth resulting in less dark staining.

Helps To Prevent Cavities

Just as there is less staining with the use of a straw, there is also a reduced chance for cavities. When allowed to pool in the mouth, soda can have harsh effects on your teeth. By using a straw, it is possible to reduce the impact of those highly acidic beverages that can weaken your tooth enamel.

Increase in Water Consumption

Perhaps the most significant benefit of drinking with a straw is your ability to consume more liquid. Many find themselves drinking more water when they use a straw rather than drinking directly from a glass. Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water has exponential health benefits. Your oral hygiene benefits as water helps to wash away any remaining food particles and sugars. Water also helps to stimulate the flow of your natural saliva and its ability to be your mouth’s natural defense system.

Straw Placement Matters

The best way to minimize the exposure is by positioning the straw behind the teeth and making quick sips. It would be best if you also swallowed the liquid as soon as you sip it through the straw. This allows you to enjoy the taste of the beverage while significantly reducing the length of time that the drink washes over your teeth. While your teeth will still be exposed to the beverage, the short duration of time that it lingers in the mouth will be minimized.

Invest In Reusable

Single-use plastic straws, which are used once and then discarded, are a major pollution issue. The often-cited statistic that Americans use 500 million plastic straws daily, according to the National Park Service, may seem slightly exaggerated. However, no reliable statistic on plastic straw usage exists, according to NBC.

Investing in reusable silicone straws that can be easily cleaned and used many times is the best way to protect your teeth and the environment.

Minimizing the Impact of Sugary Drinks

There are other effective ways in which you can minimize the impact of sugary and acidic drinks on your teeth. For example, after you enjoy a sweet beverage, always rinse your mouth with clean water afterward. This gives the saliva in your mouth a natural boost which will help to continue to rinse the sugar from your teeth.

The best way to prevent tooth decay, cavities, and all other dental diseases is by avoiding sugary drinks altogether. Consider swapping your afternoon soda for water to give your oral hygiene a boost. For more information on ways, you can protect your teeth from your favorite sweetened beverages, ask Dr. Kim Okamura DDS at your next professional cleaning.

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Published in Blog
Dr. Kim Okamura Welcome to my blog! This blog is a product of my love of dentistry. I dedicate it to all the patients I have served so that they may better understand my craft. The information here will give you and others the power to maintain and protect one of your most priceless gifts ... your SMILE. Happy reading!