Many people believe they can protect teeth from dental erosion and tooth wear by drinking through a straw. Dr Andrea Shepperson discusses whether straws really do protect teeth.
It has often been said that drinking through a straw will lessen the exposure of your teeth to a drink which in turn reduces the risk of enamel deterioration, dental erosion and other harmful effects. But do straws really help protect teeth?
A study published in the Journal of Dentistry in 2019 looked at whether using straws when drinking acidic drinks effectively protected University students from the effects of tooth wear and erosion.
When it came to the frequent intake of dietary acids, the study showed that the use of a straw did not have a protective effect. The study also showed that there is potential risk for greater localised erosive wear if the straw is directed at particular teeth rather than the back of the mouth (Martignon et al., 2019).
Next time you drink from a straw, notice how the back teeth and tongue are still exposed to the drink. Your tongue is in constant contact with your teeth, so if you can taste the drink, your teeth have been exposed. The only way to avoid this would be to put the tip of the straw right at the back of your mouth to avoid all teeth. This method would be more like taking a shot.
In the same study, researchers found that waiting until one hour after consuming the acidic beverage to brush teeth did not have a protective effect either (Martignon et al., 2019, p. 209).
Minimise Acidic Beverages
When it comes to Tooth Wear and Erosion, making lifestyle changes is the number one solution. The best way to protect your teeth is to minimise acidic drinks such as soda and juice from your diet. Continuing with the consumption of strong acidic beverages can roughen and dissolve teeth whether you use a straw or not.
Be wary of health trends and fads, such as Lemon Detox and Apple Cider Vinegar diets. Both can have devastating consequences for teeth, dissolving tooth enamel and creating very worn, yellow, sensitive teeth.
What Does Erosion Look Like?
Erosion creates enamel loss on either front or back teeth, or both. The result is exposure of yellow dentine, creating sensitive areas that cause pain. Sometimes just a colour change to more yellow teeth, or the development of thin, transparent edges can be a sign.
At Lumino City Dental at Quay Park, we are trained and experienced in recognising erosion and tooth wear and offer a range of solutions. These include detailed analysis of the cause, guidance on lifestyle changes, reparative products and rebuilding worn teeth with a variety of techniques to suit all budgets.
If you have concerns about your Erosion and Tooth Wear, please contact our experienced team.
Martignon, S., López-Macías, A. M., Bartlett, D., Pitts, N., Usuga-Vacca, M., Gamboa, L. F., & O’Toole, S. (2019). The use of index teeth vs. full mouth in erosive tooth wear to assess risk factors in the diet: A cross-sectional epidemiological study. Journal of Dentistry, 88, 103164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdent.2019.07.002