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The truth about straws: are they good for your teeth?

The Truth About Straws: Are They Good For Your Teeth?

There’s some mixed information out there about whether or not drinking through a straw is good for your oral health. Some people swear that using a straw keeps their teeth healthy and white, while others claim they only cause harm.

The truth? It really depends — and all those separate opinions can make sense in different situations.

We’ve broken it down to lay out the benefits and risks for you once and for all!

The Good

  • Because straws keep beverages from coming into direct contact with your very front teeth, there is some evidence that they may help prevent anterior (front of mouth) stains from dark or acidic drinks.
  • A straw may help you avoid cavities if it’s positioned towards the very back of your mouth in a way that limits the number of teeth touched and the amount of time the liquid touches them.
  • Many people find that they sip more water throughout the day when using a straw. Staying hydrated is vital to your oral and overall health!

The Bad

  • Though straws may help you avoid front teeth stains, the truth is that a number of factors cause discoloration. Simply using a straw won’t ensure that your teeth stay pearly white forever.
  • Depending on how it’s positioned, a straw can allow for a concentrated stream of liquid to hit only one or two teeth repeatedly. This can lead to uneven decay and cavities at the back of your mouth. Since straw positioning is so important to get right, some people decide to skip them entirely.
  • If you get too confident that using a straw is protecting your teeth, you might be tempted to consume more harmful beverages without thinking about the consequences.
  • The suction of a straw can damage healing wounds after dental procedures. If you’ve had an extraction or mouth surgery, you’ll want to avoid straws for a couple of weeks.

The Verdict

It’s ultimately a personal decision to use a straw or not. If you choose to use one, opt for a reusable or paper version to help reduce plastic waste in our environment. Be conscious of how it’s positioned so you don’t cause unnecessary harm to your back molars!

Regardless of how you drink, the most important thing to keep your teeth healthy is to avoid sugary beverages, rinse with plenty of water, and follow a daily brushing and flossing regimen. If you have any questions about how straws affect your personal dental health, ask any of our staff at your next appointment!

 

Sources
American Dental Association
Ask the Dentist
Washington Post

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