Thirst is strongly associated with summertime. With the sun blaring down at full capacity, not much time passes between stepping outside and feeling like you need to rehydrate. Doctors recommend drinking at least 8-12 cups of water a day, possibly more due to excessive moisture loss from constant sweat. Many people, however, prefer flavored drinks, like sweet tea or sodas, for their pleasurable taste. Dr. Michael Young explains the folly of relying on sugar-loaded drinks to quench your thirst this summer.
The Usual Suspects
Some drinks are naturally associated with summer. Iced tea and lemonade scream summer every time they are poured into a glass. While refreshing and, in most cases, exceptionally tasty, both of these beverages contain large amounts of sugar that can damage your teeth. Most sugars today are refined. When refined sugars and fermentable carbohydrates interact with plaque, oral bacteria become acidic and attack your tooth enamel. Acidic bacteria weaken your teeth by sapping your enamel of crucial minerals, like calcium, that it needs to remain strong. When the enamel is weakened or damaged, your teeth are essentially defenseless to bacterial attack and tooth decay.
Lemonade and lemon iced tea hold extra risks because of citric acid, which also attacks tooth enamel. The urge to slowly sip lemonade and iced tea to savor their sweet flavor exacerbates the risk, because the longer your teeth are exposed to sugar and acid, the greater the chance of tooth decay.
Give Your Teeth a Summer Break from Sugar
There is no way around it; water is the best choice to quench your thirst. Although many people would instinctively disagree (mainly due to misinformation), the water from your faucet is an even better choice than bottled water. Most communities treat their water supply with fluoride, as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, to fight cavities. Milk is also a good choice because it contains the same minerals as your tooth enamel (calcium and phosphate) and can assist your teeth in remineralization (strengthening the enamel by replenishing lost minerals). Milk has sugars, too, though, so be sure to rinse your mouth with water after a cold glass of milk.
Give your teeth a break from sugar baths this summer. They’ll thank you for it, and repay the favor every time you flash your beautiful, healthy smile. If you are in or near the 70508 area and would like to know more about nutrition and your oral health, call our office at (337) 237-6453 to schedule an appointment with your Lafayette dentist.