Straws and Your Smile: Do’s and Don’ts

Life is full of big decisions, so let’s take a moment to tackle a small issue: straws and your smile. We want your smile to be healthy as well as attractive. Did you know something as seemingly simple as a drinking straw can make a difference in the look and health of your teeth? Drinking straws can help preserve your oral health and protect from some smile-busters, but they aren’t a magic cure-all. Bring your questions to your next exam and cleaning, and your dentist can give you the straight talk on drinking straws.

Some Straw Do’s

Use a straw for sweet or acidic drinks. Sodas and citrus fruit juices are refreshing in the summer, but sugar is a main food source for the bacteria that can harm tooth enamel. In addition, these drinks are often acidic, which can stress tooth enamel. Many sports drinks contain sugar and are acidic as well. 

Use a straw for brightly colored drinks. Drinking hot coffee with a straw doesn’t make sense, but use a straw when possible for strongly colored drinks like iced coffee, sports drinks and iced tea. While there are teeth-whitening options that can restore brightness to dull teeth, preventing discoloration is our first suggestion for keeping your whitest smile.

Some Straw Dont’s

Don’t use a straw to pick your teeth, or serve as a chew toy. Habits such as nibbling on fingernails, chewing a straw, or crunching on ice can harm teeth by making tiny fractures in tooth enamel or by cutting gums. In severe cases (such as with a metal or hard plastic straw) a tooth could sustain a chip, requiring restorative care such as bonding, contouring or a tooth-colored filling

Don’t use a straw to hide from new or increased tooth sensitivity. A straw may help protect from a sip of icy cold water, but if you notice new or increased tooth sensitivity, let us know. Your tooth may be signaling distress, such as a newly forming cavity or a worn filling that needs attention.

Drinking Straws Can Be Fun, and Protect Your Teeth, Too

Want to know more about drinking straws and dental health? Schedule a visit with your dentist in Austin, TX by contacting Austin General Dentistry today at 512-346-5540.