Drinking Healthy for Your Teeth

Understanding the Beneficial and Harmful Effects Certain Beverages Have on Our Teeth

by | Dec 18, 2018

drinking healthy for your teeth

For most of us, maintaining oral hygiene has become a mindless part of our daily routine. We brush, floss and gargle after meals and are consistent with our six-month cleanings. Surprisingly enough, much of our dental wellbeing takes place outside of the bathroom sink and in our kitchens. All of the beverages we consume during the day have significant impacts on our oral health for children and adults alike.

To find out more about the correlation of drinking and teeth health, we consulted Dr. Ashley D. Holmes, DDS of Hendricks Family Dentistry in Virginia Beach. Holmes reveals a number of ways in which we can become more mindful of the beverages we consume and better understand both the beneficial and harmful effects certain drinks have on our teeth.

At the forefront of Holmes’ conversation is acidity. “Erosion occurs when the teeth are bathed in an acidic environment,” says Holmes. “The acid literally eats away at the outer enamel of [our] teeth and can progress to the inner layer, or dentin.”

Prolonging an acidic oral environment by not brushing our teeth or rinsing after we eat or drink can lead to an array of dental issues including discoloration, staining, erosion, cavities, tooth sensitivity and, sometimes, tooth loss. Holmes explains that finding balance in our liquid diet is key.


Drink water for healthy teethDrink Water

As well as being good for your overall health, Holmes explains that regular water consumption can reap tremendous benefits on your teeth. Drinking water helps to rinse away residual sugars, strengthen teeth and protect against the damaging effects of an acidic oral environment. Tap water also contains natural fluorides that can help repair damaged teeth.

Holmes encourages patients to drink tap water, not bottled or flavored. Packaged waters often contain low pH levels, deeming them acidic, as well as high levels of sugar that can corrode our enamel.


Chase sugar with calcium, drinking healthyChase Sugar with Calcium

Growing up, we were told that calcium builds strong bones. As it turns out, calcium can help build strong teeth too. Our dental development begins in utero as we grow our primary or baby teeth that precede the secondary chompers that mature during early childhood.

Holmes encourages young children to drink milk as their teeth, unlike adults’, are more receptive to the strengthening agents found in calcium. “After your teeth finish developing, calcium itself does not change the composition or strength of your teeth,” explains Holmes. “Milk is beneficial for your teeth in that it has a much more neutral pH and will not contribute to the erosion of tooth enamel.”

Holmes notes that milk can also counteract the high levels of acidity found in sodas, flavored waters, beer and the like. Drinking a glass of milk after consuming sugary or acidic beverages can help neutralize our oral environment. In place of milk, Holmes recommends eating cheese or unsweetened yogurt.

Still yet, Holmes says, “While milk does have a lot of benefits, it also contains sugar. Your teeth should be brushed after consuming milk the same way they would after consuming a sugary drink.”


Be Wary of Coffee and Cocktails

Red wine, coffee and tea are the most notorious perpetrators of tooth discoloration. Their sugary components, particularly glucose, fructose and sucrose, lead to yellowed or darkened natural surfaces that can prematurely age your smile.

If you’re going to indulge in a morning cuppa or happy hour cocktail, Holmes says to be conscious of sugary creamers and highly acidic mixers and to exercise proper straw etiquette. “Using a straw that is placed behind your front teeth or in between your top and bottom teeth helps to keep your beverage from directly contacting your teeth and bathing them in sugar, acid or staining liquid,” explains Holmes.

Another tip: do not swish or sip. Consume alcohol and coffee in one sitting.


Understand Your Child’s Juice Box

Juices, sports drinks and drinkable pouches posing as “organic” or “all-natural” seem like healthy beverage options, but like their generic alternatives, they are high in sugars that can harm growing teeth. Gatorade and Powerade are among the most acidic kids’ drinks with orange juice, grape juice and fruit punch following closely behind.

As a rule of thumb in the Holmes’ household, only drinks containing less than 8 grams of sugar per serving can be consumed. Holmes says that if you wish to give your child a juice or soda, do so with a meal.

Yogurt smoothies, on the other hand, are safer drinkable options. While their sugar content is still high, the calcium in the yogurt helps to neutralize our acidic oral bacteria caused by sugar consumption.


Healthy Drinking for Oral Health

Healthy Drinking for Oral Health

How do juices, sodas and other beverages affect our teeth? To understand this, we must evaluate the beverages’ pH levels on a 0–14 scale and determine whether the drinks are acidic, neutral or basic. Pure water indicates a pH level of 7, deeming it neutral and safe to drink. Beverages with pH levels higher than 7 are also safe for our teeth and are recognized as basic.

Drinks reading levels lower than 7, however, can lead to erosion, discoloring and tooth loss. Dentin actually dissolves in substances with pH levels lower than 6.5, which are the common levels found in popular brands of soda, bottled waters, coffee and more.

Use these charts to better understand your drinking habits and how to best alter them for healthier, stronger teeth.



                                                     pH Level

 Barq’s Root Beer




 Diet Coke


 Mountain Dew


 Dr. Pepper


 Fanta Orange








Juice and Sports Drinks

                                                     pH Level

 V8 100% Vegetable Juice


 Tropicana Apple Juice


 Minute Maid Orange Juice


 Red Bull


 Welch’s Concord Grape


 Gatorade Lemon-Lime


 Gatorade Cool Blue


 Powerade Red



coffee and tea

Coffee and Tea

                                                     pH Level

 Coffee with Coffee-Mate   Creamer


 Black Coffee


 Starbucks Original


 Nestea Sweetened Iced Tea


 Lemon Brisk



bottled water

Bottled Waters:

                                                     pH Level





 Spring by Dannon​










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