Taking care of our teeth should always be our top priority. After all, they’re going to be part of our smiles as we get old. Whether at school, work, or social events, showing our smiles is the best way to make a good first impression. A smile can make a person look more likable and even help spread happiness and positivity. This is why people rely on dental procedures and orthodontics to reap the benefits of a straight, white, and healthy smile.
While brushing and flossing are both critical to oral care, the food we eat also plays a pivotal role in dental health and oral hygiene. Many types of food strengthen and enhance our teeth and gums, but there are also some drinks harming our teeth, such as acidic and sweet drinks. Since the holidays are just around the corner, people opt for better ways to drink social beverages, whether iced coffee, breakfast juice, or fancy cocktail.
Straws are the best way to consume our favorite drinks. But studies show the plastic straws harm not only the environment but also our teeth. This article will talk about the impact of plastic straws on oral health and the ideal alternatives to protect your teeth.
How plastic straws affect oral health
Believe it or not, drinking acidic or sugary beverages through a plastic straw increases the risk of cavities. How? Whenever we take a sip through the straw, it sends a concentrated amount of liquid in a certain part of the teeth, which causes tooth decay and erodes the enamel. The best way to reduce the likelihood of cavities is to position the straw behind the teeth or at the back of the throat. But this option may not be comfortable and realistic for many people.
Single-used plastic straws contain polypropylene, a petroleum-based plastic. Few amounts of polypropylene are food-safe, but there’s evidence that it attaches itself to liquids and releases compounds that affect estrogen levels when exposed to UV light, heat, and acidic beverages.
Sipping sugary beverages through straws also increases sugar intake. Straws allow you to gulp large volumes of liquid quickly than using a regular cup. Also, people aren’t good at estimating the amount of liquid they consume, especially when distracted.
How reusable straws benefit the teeth
Straws, except the plastic ones, actually benefit our oral health. Besides the noticeable convenience, straws are better for the teeth. A study discovered that drinking soda through a straw reduces the formation of acidic plaque, while those who drink without a straw are more prone to tooth decay. High-risk beverages include alcohol, soft drinks, lemon water, and fruit juice. These drinks contain high levels of acid PH, which dissolve tooth enamel over time, leading to tooth sensitivity and other oral health problems.
Straws also protect the tooth enamel. Whenever we drink through a straw, it limits the exposure of the teeth to the liquid.
But to maximize the benefits of straws, it’s essential to use their reusable counterparts to lessen the impact on our health and the environment.
Types of reusable straws
Reusable straws not only benefit the environment but also keep our smiles bright and healthy. They prevent the risk of decay and discoloration. So if you’re planning to switch to straws, it’s important to do it in an eco-friendly way. Here are examples of reusable straws that are good for the environment.
Metal straws come in different types, but stainless steel is the most popular option. They’re durable, portable, and easy to clean. But they also have a few drawbacks. A cheap metal straw has a metallic taste once the liquid passes through it. Metal is also a heat conductor, which means it absorbs the heat of warm drinks. You’re also prone to cracked or chipped teeth when you accidentally bite hard the straw.
Silicone straws are perfect for kids since it prevents teeth injuries because of their flexibility and ability to bend and fit within tight spaces. This is also a perfect option for people with a straw-biting habit.
Glass is also a great alternative to plastic straws since they don’t contain chemicals or weird tastes, unlike metals. The downside is they’re very sensitive to changes in temperature and pressure.
Drinking through straws can do wonders for our oral health, but it’s important to be wary about the kind of straw we use. Plastic straws not only harm the environment but also cause cavities and other health concerns. Today, straws come in reusable alternatives, such as bamboo, silicone, glass, and stainless steel. They offer unique benefits to your oral health aside from being stylish. So make sure to grab these eco-friendly straws to protect both your teeth and the environment.