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11 / 01 / 2019

Think Before You Drink!

What We Consume Has Different Effects On Our Teeth And Gums – Not All Of It Good

This month is Dry January, an attempt by some people to stop drinking for one month.

Alcohol, as we will show in this blog, is potentially harmful to our oral health, but it is not the only drink that can affect both teeth and gums. In today’s Lighthouse Dental Practice blog, we take a look at how what we drink, can make a big difference.

Alcohol

Let’s start with one of the more ‘serious’ ones. Many of us enjoy a drink or two, and, providing that this is kept in moderation, it probably does us little harm. Where we drink in excess or too regularly though, health issues are probably not too far away.

The most serious problem that alcohol causes, with regards to oral health, is mouth cancer. This potentially deadly disease is on the rise, with numbers expected to increase in the years to come. Whilst it can prove to be fatal, it can also leave significant facial disfigurement following treatment. As with most serious illnesses, the sooner it is detected, the more effective and successful any subsequent treatment is likely to be. Potential signs of oral cancers are one of the things that we look for during your regular examinations at our Ipswich dental practice. Where relevant, we may refer you to your own GP for further checks.

Alcohol is also well known to cause a dry mouth. This, as we have discussed before, is a significant contributor to gum disease.

Sports And Energy Drinks

Despite the benefits that these are supposed to offer; they generally contain very high levels of sugar. Even natural sugars, such as fructose, from fruit, will eventually lead to tooth decay. The way that these drinks are consumed, often sipped over a period of time, also means that the teeth are exposed to these sugars over a long period.

Fizzy Drinks And Colas

Like energy drinks, these are also very high in sugars. Not only that, but they tend to be highly acidic as well. These acids cause damage to the enamel of our teeth as they pass over them. It is best to avoid this type of drink if possible, but if you do drink them, try to use a straw so that your teeth are less exposed.

Fruit Juices

Although some of these are advertised as ‘sugar-free’, the fact that they contain fruit or fruit extracts means that sugars in the form of fructose will be present. Again, acidity is an issue, with citric fruits such as oranges and lemons being high in citric acid. Although we may be inclined to give our children fruit drinks as a ‘healthy alternative’ to other sugary drinks, the truth is that they can also be damaging to their young teeth.

Tea And Coffee

Many of us like to start the day with a nice cup of tea. Providing that you don’t add sugar to it, tea is a fairly tooth-friendly drink in so far as their health goes. There is a problem though in that the tannin in tea is a well-known stainer of teeth. If you drink a lot of tea, you are very likely to notice that your teeth darken in colour over time. As this is surface staining, it can usually be removed during your scale and polish with the hygienist, or, for a more significant improvement in colour, you may wish to consider the teeth whitening treatments that we have available at our Ipswich practice.

Coffee will also eventually lead to some degree of tooth staining, but perhaps the biggest danger here is not in the coffee that we drink at home, but in those that we buy in coffee shops. Whilst some of these are very similar to ones we make at home, there is a trend towards ‘speciality’ coffees. These often include added ingredients such as syrups, creams, marshmallows and chocolate; all adding to the amount of sugars already in the coffee. One estimate of the biggest culprit of this is that it contained nearly 66 grams of sugar. If you accept NHS guidance which advises that anyone over the age of 11 should consume no more than 30 grams of sugar in a day, and you have already doubled that, before you eat or drink anything else. Imagine the potential harm to your teeth as you sip your coffee!

Water

Finally, some good news. Water is not only not harmful to your teeth but is positively good for them. Drinking sufficient water each day will help to remove some of the sugars from your teeth as well as flushing away tiny pieces of food and bacteria that have become trapped between your teeth and on the gum line. Whilst this will not fully remove all the debris, and you will still need to brush your teeth and floss daily, it will definitely help.

Water is also the best way to be well hydrated. This is an important factor if you want to help avoid harmful oral health issues such as gum disease.

As ever, taking good care of your teeth and gums means not only eating and drinking sensibly, but also maintaining a good oral health regime both at home and with the aid of a dentist. If you are not registered with a dentist, or wish to change, and live in the Ipswich area, why not give the Lighthouse Dental Practice a call today on 01473 257379.

We are here to help you.
If you would like to speak to a member of our friendly team about any of the issues in this article please visit our contact page or call us on 01473 257379.

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“Hygienist, Angela sets you at ease from the moment you walk ...“

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“I am 70 years of age, and I have always been afraid to go to...“

Earlmain L

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“I booked an emergency treatment appointment, having had a to...“

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“As a nervous patient, I was very worried about having my too...“

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“Wow! The service I received from Jane was absolutely fantastic; she went above and beyond ...“

Dee D

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“I am 70 years of age, and I have always been afraid to go to the dentist. A broken tooth ...“

Earlmain L

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“I booked an emergency treatment appointment, having had a tooth for a few days and was una...“

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“As a nervous patient, I was very worried about having my tooth removed. I was instantly pu...“

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