Suck it Up: Why Using a Straw Can Protect Your Teeth

If you’re a regular brusher, flosser, and rinser, but are still looking for additional ways to protect your teeth and avoid surface stains – we hear you. Try as you might, sometimes doing everything “right” doesn’t always lead to perfectly white teeth. That’s why many are adding another tactic to their oral hygiene routine: straws! Simple and effective, straws can help move you toward the bright, healthy smile you seek.

Drinking from a straw limits the contact between corrosive liquids and the surface of your teeth. Acidic drinks like coffee, orange juice, alcohol, and soda can all eat away at your teeth’s enamel. The impact of these sweet substances can be amplified when consumed too much or when paired with poor dental hygiene.

In addition to wearing down enamel (which increases sensitivity and risk of tooth decay), using a straw to minimize contact can also help prevent cavities (as corrosive materials come in less contact with your teeth). Those that drink from a straw also find that it helps reduce surface stains, as again, the straw minimizes contact with corrosive, acidic materials. The next time you’re enjoying that glass of red wine at home, reach for a straw and rest easy.

Silly as it may seem, there are best practices for using straws. One is that it’s important to keep a straw positioned toward the back of your mouth (as opposed to allowing the tip of the straw to rest on your teeth) and avoid taking big gulps that would lead to liquid resting in the back of your mouth for more than a second or two. You should also be mindful of chewing on straws if you’ve been using them to drink for an extended period of time. Excessive biting and chewing (as unconscious as it may be) can also damage your teeth.

If you’re going to switch to straws, consider using biodegradable versions that are more environmentally-friendly, or invest in a reusable straw made of thicker plastic or glass. Throwing away every straw used with a drink can add up over time, negatively impacting the environment if not made of biodegradable material. Opting for that sturdier, reusable straw can also save you money in the long run (no need to continuously restock).

You may also want to be conscious of when and for what reasons you’re using a straw. For example, it’s probably not necessary to use a straw when drinking something like a glass of water, which can actually be good for cleansing and re-mineralizing your teeth. A selective straw routine ensures your use is environmentally-friendly. Only use a straw when there’s a reason!

Pro-tip: If you’re at a coffee shop and in need of a straw, you can use a stirrer as a makeshift straw (trust us, it works!).

To determine if switching to straws is something that could positively impact the health of your teeth, consider reaching out to a dental professional. Allegiance Dental Associates is happy to speak with you about a variety of strategies for protecting and preserving your teeth. Give us a call at (410) 670-3376 or request an appointment online!