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Rethink your drink

Rethink your drink

An Airman pours soda onto her toothbrush at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Jan. 31, 2018. The average American consumes over 50 gallons of soda and other sweetened drinks each year. Consuming sweetened soft drinks can contribute to tooth decay and possible dental pain if left untreated. To protect against these issues, the 49th Medical Group suggests kicking the habit altogether or minimizing your soft drink consumption and adopting healthier dental hygiene practices. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexis P. Docherty)

Rethink your drink

Capt. Addison Walker, 49th Medical Group dentist, cleans an Airman’s teeth during a routine checkup at the dental clinic at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Jan. 31, 2018. Sugary soft drinks, sport drinks and fruit juices can contribute to tooth decay by dissolving the enamel that protect our teeth. To protect against this, the 49th MDG suggests kicking the habit altogether or minimizing your soft drink consumption and adopting healthier dental hygiene practices. (U.S. Air Force by Airman 1st Class Alexis P. Docherty)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

We all have heard the old saying, “we are what we eat,” but did you know that this is just as important for your teeth as it is your body? Your choice of drink not only has a huge impact on your waistline, but on your dental health too.

Most of the focus regarding the consumption of sugary soft drinks, sport drinks and fruit juices stems from the issues of obesity and diabetes. It is important to realize that these same drinks can contribute to tooth decay and possible dental pain if left untreated.

The average American consumes over 50 gallons of soda and other sweetened drinks each year. Sweetened soft drinks, the main culprit, cause havoc on our dental health. They work by constantly washing your mouth with sugar and acid allowing for the perfect acidic environment and constant supply of sugar for the bacteria in your mouth.

These bacteria then produce more acids that lead to tooth decay by dissolving the enamel that protect our teeth.

How to prevent damage?

Though many of us cannot seem to kick the habit, the solution is to stop drinking soda. However, there are things you can do to lower the risk of damaging your teeth.

Drink in moderation- Do not have more than one soft drink each day. Just one will do enough damage.

Drink quickly- The longer it takes to drink a soft drink, the more time it has to cause harm to your dental health. The faster you drink, the less time the sugars and acids have to damage your teeth. (Just remember – Sip all day and you get decay!)

Use a straw- This will help keep the damaging acids and sugars away from your teeth.

Rinse your mouth with water afterward- Flushing your mouth with water after drinking a soda will help wash away any remaining sugars and acids, and stop them from attacking your teeth.

Wait before you brush- Despite what you may think, brushing immediately after you have a soda is not a good idea because the friction against the vulnerable teeth can do more harm than good. Instead, wait 30 to 60 minutes before brushing.

Avoid soft drinks before bedtime- Not only will the sugar likely keep you up, but the sugar and acid will have all night to attack your teeth.

Get regular dental cleanings- Regular checkups and exams will identify problems before they worsen.

Be smart about what you choose for yourself and for your family, and rethink your drink.

Many health issues can be circumvented by choosing healthier options and using your judgement to make the best choices. Use sweet drinks in moderation, and take care of your dental hygiene in between drinks.

As always, visit your dentist regularly for dental examinations and professional cleanings for a better overall dental health.