Although we are often told that it is polite to sip, it can lead to enamel erosion on our teeth.
Older patients of our Purley practice may remember, as a child, being told not to ‘guzzle’ their drink. This word is barely used now but basically means to drink it fast and greedily. It was certainly not deemed to be polite to do so, and young children were taught to drink as their parents did, which was generally to sip.
Whilst it may well have seemed more polite and genteel to sip drinks slowly, recent studies have shown that this action, although done with the best of intentions, is actually one of the reasons why many of us have compromised enamel on our teeth.
Enamel erosion may not seem to be as bad as, say, a broken tooth, but it is just as serious, if not immediately quite as uncomfortable. On a minor front, eroded enamel creates a rough surface on the tooth and any staining products that are consumed, such as red wine or tea, will stick to the surface much more easily, causing premature teeth discolouration. More seriously, once the protective enamel layer has been damaged, the softer and more porous dentin layer beneath it is exposed. This allows acids and bacteria to enter the tooth and helps the decaying process to begin. Bacteria can also enter the root canals more easily and infections may follow soon after.
How to drink
Although treatments such as veneers can be used to restore a protective layer to the front of damaged teeth, it is much better to prevent this from happening in the first instance.
Drinking a drink quickly, or ‘guzzling’, does mean that any sugars or acids in the drink only come into brief contact with the teeth, thereby causing less damage than if you sip. Unfortunately, however, this may not be practical or socially acceptable, so most people do sip their drink, and will probably continue to do so. This does not have to be as harmful as it could be though; if you do sip your drink, try to swallow it immediately rather than letting it linger in the mouth and consider using a straw to allow the drink to bypass your teeth as much as possible.
It should be said that water is an exception to this guidance. You can swill this around your mouth to your heart’s content with no harm at all. In fact, drinking more water is something that we can all do to help protect our teeth. Not only will it help to remove small food particles that have become stuck between the teeth, but will also help to keep the mouth moist. This will also help to prevent a dry mouth which increases the risk of gum disease.
Whatever you eat or drink it is important to remember that you still need to see your local Purley dentist every six months or so for an oral health check. Early detection of any problems will mean that there is a better chance of saving more of the natural tooth, should any problems be detected.
To arrange your appointment at the Confidental Clinic, please call us on 020 8399 1291.