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A refreshing soda, an energizing coffee, a tantalizing cocktail — all drinks we enjoy. But they can also be detrimental to your dental health by contributing to cavities. As your Tenleytown orthodontists, Bird Smiles Orthodontics cares about the health of your teeth so we’ve ranked 10 popular drinks that can cause cavities below so you’re more informed about your oral health. From least damaging to the worst for your teeth, read on to see if you’re consuming any of these regularly and how they can affect your teeth

1. Milk

Milk? Yes, you might wonder why a seemingly healthy drink is on this list of worst drinks for teeth. Though milk is generally tooth-friendly because of its teeth-strengthening calcium, vitamin D, and phosphates, the lactose (sugars) in milk can weaken teeth if left too long on the tooth surface. And flavored milk — like chocolate or strawberry — has added sugars that increase the risk of cavities.

2. Kombucha

Another healthy drink that potentially causes cavities? Kombucha. This probiotic drink is meant to improve your gut health but teethwise, it’s not without some drawbacks. Kombucha’s vinegar and acidic qualities can pose a problem for teeth, potentially harming enamel over time. Plus, some flavors are sweetened, adding to the cavity risk.

3. Coffee

Always start your day with a coffee? It’s understandable, but this caffeine boost is on the list of worst drinks for your teeth. Why? The acidity in coffee can weaken tooth enamel and its dark color is known to stain teeth. Plus, if you load it with sugar or syrups, you’re increasing the likelihood of tooth decay.

As orthodontists, Dr. Talley and Dr. Clark are frequently asked by our adult patients, “Can I have coffee while in treatment?” With braces, our answer is, yes, you can drink coffee with braces; coffee won’t damage your appliance. But with Invisalign, ensure you take your aligners out when drinking coffee — or anything other than water. You don’t want to trap cavity and stain causing ingredients underneath your aligners.

4. Iced Tea & Black Tea

Why have we included black tea and iced tea on our list of worst drinks for teeth health? Well, They’re known to stain teeth, especially because they contain tannins which help the stain-causing ingredients to stick to your teeth. And if you sweeten your tea, you’re inviting cavity-causing sugars to coat your mouth.

5. Red Wine

Cheers to a glass of red, but its acidic nature can erode enamel over time, making teeth more vulnerable to decay and cavities. Plus, its dark hue can leave behind stains; like teas, red wine contains tannins that encourage pigmented ingredients to stick to your teeth.

6. Lemonade

Without a doubt, a glass of lemonade on a hot summer day in DC can hit the spot. However, lemonade is highly acidic and sugary, which can lead to enamel erosion and cavities, especially if consumed frequently.

7. Juice

While fruit juice might seem like it belongs on a list of healthy drinks, we consider juice one of the worst drinks for teeth health and we caution against consuming it frequently. Juice is often high in sugar, and without the fiber from the whole fruit, juice’s natural sugars can really stick to teeth. Plus, the acid content can soften enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to tooth decay.

8. Cocktails

Cocktails can be both delightful and detrimental. Sugary mixers combined with acidic components like citrus juices can spell trouble for your teeth like the other sugary and acidic drinks mentioned above.

9. Soda

For many, the fizzy goodness of soda just can’t be beat. However, soda is packed with sugar and acids, which is a recipe for weakening your teeth and encouraging tooth decay. Health professionals across the board consider soda as one of the worst offending drinks for both your teeth and your overall health.

10. Energy Drinks

Need a boost? Perhaps think twice about reaching for an energy drink when your batteries are low. Energy drinks are one of the worst drinks for teeth because they’re loaded with sugar and acids. Plus, they often contain caffeine to perk you up which can contribute to dry mouth, an environment that oral bacteria thrive in.

What Do I Do After Enjoying One of These Beverages?

We understand that eliminating some of the above drinks isn’t easy. Our advice? Consider the tips and hacks below to minimize the impact of sweet or acidic drinks on your teeth:

  • Drink all the above in moderation if you can’t eliminate them completely.
  • Use a straw to lessen your drink’s contact with your teeth.
  • Rinse your mouth with water after you drink to help wash away lingering sugars or staining ingredients.
  • Eat veggies with your drink like carrots, broccoli, or celery. These veggies act as micro scrubbers that remove some of the sugars on your teeth. They also stimulate saliva flow which decreases oral acidity.
  • Wait 30 minutes or so, then brush your teeth. Why wait? Brushing sooner can cause damage to your enamel in its already weakened state.
  • Visit your dentist regularly to catch tartar and cavities early and keep your smile sparkling.

Best Drinks that Don’t Cause Cavities?

At the top of our list of the best drinks for your teeth? Hands down, water takes the top spot. You can also reach for coconut water or herbal teas minus any added sugar or flavorings. And for those special celebratory occasions? A gin and soda water is a no-sugar alternative to red wine and sweet cocktails.

Leveling Up Your Teeth Health With Your Tenleytown Orthodontists

Now that you know which are the worst — and best— drinks for your teeth, take a transformational step in maintaining healthy teeth with orthodontics. Braces and Invisalign treatments result in straight teeth, which promotes easier, more effective oral hygiene against tooth decay and cavities.

Schedule an appointment with your Washington, DC orthodontist today!