How Using a Straw When Drinking Benefits Your Dental Health

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If you are trying to do a good job brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing carefully, moving a clean part of the floss each time to scrape off the particles that can attract periodontal bacteria, you may wonder what else you should be doing.

It may come as a surprise that drinking beverages with a straw could be helpful in several ways. If you consume water from a bottle with a straw made of aluminum or other material during exercise or work, you can get into the habit of using that when drinking at other times. When you go out to eat, restaurants will usually provide paper straws that are hygienic and recyclable (unlike plastic ones), which is beneficial for cleaner teeth.

The first benefit of using a straw is that if you position it correctly, liquids will go directly down your throat and not land on the back teeth. Many popular beverages, including sodas, energy and sports drinks, fruit juices, and sweet drinks of any kind are full of various kinds of sugar (manufacturers try to hide this with technical names like high fructose corn syrup or dextrose or make it sound less harmful by noting that the drink contains “natural and organic cane sugar”). These are usually also highly acidic and can erode the hard outer enamel that protects teeth from cavities.

Few people drink water or brush and floss right after they drink these, so the sugar can stick to their teeth until after dinner (when being tired may tempt anyone to do the cleaning quickly and less effectively). Using a straw can help minimize the amount of sugar that lands on the teeth and starts undermining their health and that of the supporting gums.

Second, colored sodas, coffee, tea, red wine, and other dark beverages can severely stain teeth over time. If you find that your teeth seem to be turning yellow or brown, this is probably due to the gradual build-up of being repeatedly bathed in dark liquids for long periods that are not brushed off quickly.

You may have already discovered that over-the-counter whitening strips, gels, trays, rinses, pens, and toothpastes are not very effective. If you drink with a straw, instead of always savoring the taste of the beverage lingering in the mouth, you might avoid having to have your teeth frequently whitened professionally. Being able to confidently flash a full, friendly smile is clearly important.

Finally, many people have sensitive teeth, whether due to genetics or dental habits, and drinking with a straw can help avoid having the liquid hit the teeth and cause pain.

Start using a straw when you can, swish water around your mouth after consuming anything sugary or acidic, and brush and floss regularly, so that you can maintain a beautiful smile.

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