Hot Drinks: Your Smile’s Sworn Enemy

Hot drinks are incredibly popular these days. From plain coffee and teas to hot chocolate, lattes, and spiced cider, millions of people use these types of beverages to help them wake up in the mornings or wind down after a long day. They’re often the go-to comfort beverages to lift our spirits and warm up our insides. Of course, they serve as the perfect sweet treats to get through the afternoon slump as well. Unfortunately, those warm, wonderful drinks can also take a toll on our teeth if we enjoy them too often.

How Do Hot Beverages Affect Your Teeth?

Hot drinks can affect the teeth in a few key ways. Their effects may vary based on the type of beverage in question and the ingredients you add to them to make them your own. Still, any hot liquid can be detrimental to your teeth under the right circumstances.

Stained Teeth

It’s a well-known fact that dark beverages like coffee and certain wines and teas can stain your teeth. They contain high levels of compounds known as tannins that give them their dark colors and alluring flavors and aromas. Those compounds also leave their marks on your teeth. The Best Family Dentist in your area may be able to whiten your teeth to reduce the discoloration, but it’ll just keep coming back if you continue to drink those beverages that are high in tannins. 

Weakened Enamel

Coffee and tea are also highly acidic. Because of their acidity levels, they can weaken the protective enamel covering your teeth. This allows bacteria that naturally live in your mouth to work their way into your teeth where they can cause infections and contribute to tooth decay. Weakened enamel may also lead to increased tooth sensitivity. If so, those hot beverages you enjoy may end up causing unexpected discomfort.

Tooth Decay

Since so many of today’s popular hot beverages are loaded with sugar, they can certainly cause excessive tooth decay. Bacteria that live in the mouth thrive and multiply when they have plenty of sugar to feed on. Those bacteria then work their way into the weakened enamel caused by hot, acidic drinks where they promote tooth decay even more than they would under normal circumstances. They may also lead to gum infections and periodontitis.

Bad Breath

Sugar and dairy products that are so often added to hot drinks may lead to halitosis or bad breath. Both sugars and dairy products promote bacteria growth, and those bacteria will certainly leave you with breath that’s less than fresh. While bad breath in itself doesn’t harm your teeth, it can make you a bit less willing to show them off. Additionally, the factors that cause it also happens to make you more prone to cavities and other dental issues.

Protecting Your Teeth

Though hot beverages can damage your teeth and cause other oral problems, you don’t have to give them up entirely. There’s no harm in enjoying your favorite warm, sweet drinks in moderation. As you do, though, consider drinking them through a straw to minimize their contact with your teeth. Wait at least 45 minutes after having a hot drink to brush your teeth to help prevent tooth damage and reduce the risk of sensitivity. It’s also a good idea to drink a glass of water after having a hot beverage to wash away the sugar and tannins. All these measures can help keep tooth damage and other issues at bay.