Is Drinking Through A Straw Bad For Your Teeth?

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Medically reviewed by Danielle Romatz, RDH

Straws are a standard at dinner tables and restaurants across the world. While everyone seems to have a preference, what kind of effect do straws have on our oral health? If you haven’t thought about your straw use, what should you be aware of?

Straws are generally good for your teeth. They can help mitigate the bad effects of sugary or acidic beverages that can wear down your enamel since they ensure that beverages make less contact with your teeth. However, they can also cause a few bad side effects like smoker’s lip and bloating.

Are you ready to learn all the benefits and downsides of using a straw regularly? Well, we’ve got all the information you need. Read on to learn more about straws, your oral health, and your best options.

Is Drinking Through A Straw Bad For Your Teeth?

Young woman or teenage girl drinking soda from can

Straws have become an integral part of beverage culture in this day and age. Just go to any restaurant, and you’ll most likely be greeted with a straw in your beverage, or at least the option for a straw.

Environmental issues aside, what are some other bad reasons to avoid straws? Is your oral health at risk if you decide to sip your drink through a tiny tube?

Overall, straws are a safe way to consume a beverage in terms of oral health. They can help liquids to travel past your teeth and gums and directly to the tongue and back of the throat. For certain beverages, this can do a whole lot of good for our teeth.

This is because those beverages never make contact with the teeth. That’s where they might do damage and start to strip away your enamel. Using a straw helps mitigate these risks and makes drinking otherwise damaging beverages better for you and your health.

And by the way, if you’re thinking you want to drink through a straw more often, be sure to consider an option like this 2 Pack Reusable Metal Straws Collapsible Stainless Steel Drinking Straw (on Amazon) which will be a lot better for the environment than throwing away a ton of plastic straws over time!

How Does Drinking Through A Straw Protect Your Teeth?

It’s hard to imagine that something so simple as a straw can help you make an impact on your oral health. With all the acidic and sugary beverages out there today, it makes sense. But, how exactly does drinking through a straw protect your teeth?

Helps Stop Staining

These days, loads of beverages can stain your teeth. Of course, you probably know about coffee, red wine, and tea, but today’s modern beverages filled with dyes can also cause some severe staining issues.

Drinking from a straw keeps those liquids from touching your teeth. The result? A whiter smile without the need for extra products or procedures.

Protects Sensitive Teeth

If you think about how a straw works, it basically shoots whatever you’re drinking to the back of your throat. In many cases, you skip the teeth entirely.

If you have teeth sensitivity, this means you can mitigate a lot of the ill effects from too cold or hot beverages.

Helps Prevent Cavities

Now, we aren’t saying that using a straw will help cure any tooth ailments, but they can help prevent damage in the first place. This is for the same reason we outlined previously.

Since sugary beverages don’t make as much contact with your chompers, that sugar won’t have as easy of a job breaking down your enamel.

Of course, you’ll still want to practice your regular tooth care routine. This will include bruising, flossing, and using mouthwash when necessary.

Overall, using a straw can have some slight benefits. While it’s certainly no replacement for just avoiding sugary or acidic beverages, it can help prevent some of the bad effects these kinds of liquids have on our mouths.

What Drinks Should You Use a Straw With When Drinking?

It should come as no surprise that some beverages are better for you than others. In today’s modern supermarket, you’ll see all kinds of sugary-sweet beverages ready for consumption.

But before you pour yourself a glass of something sugary and bubbly, when should you use a straw?

You should use your straw whenever you can. Some types of drinks, like sugary or acidic beverages, are the best candidates. However, if you have sensitive teeth, you may want to use a straw for everyday drinks like water.

So, what beverages specifically should you sip through a straw?

  • Coffee
  • Acidic beverages (like water with lemon)
  • Sugary drinks (like soda)
  • Wine
  • Teas

This list is certainly not exhaustive. In most cases, you’re probably better off drinking from a straw than from the edge of the glass.

How Can Drinking From A Straw Be Bad For You?

Woman drinking soda from can with paper straw

Alright, so we’ve outlined some great reasons to use a straw, but what about the downsides? If you’re trying to make an informed decision for your health, you’ll need to know everything you can about straw use before you decide to take the plunge.

So, what do you need to know?

Smoker’s Lip

Smoker’s lip refers to the wrinkling of the lips when puckered regularly. This usually happens when people develop a smoking habit, but as you might imagine, regular straw use can result in a similar situation.

Back Teeth Stains

When it comes to tooth staining, using a straw is the easiest way to help limit stains on the front teeth. While your beverages will still come into contact with your back teeth, the overall effect is less than if you didn’t use a straw.

However, if you use a straw over a long period of time, that means that your back teeth may become stained while your front teeth stay white.

Bloating and Gas

You see, when you drink from a straw, you have more of an opportunity to ingest air. Since there is usually a little air in the straw when you take your first sip, it will go with the liquid into your stomach.

While not a huge issue, it can mean bloating in sensitive individuals.

Wrapping Up

So, is drinking from a straw bad for your teeth? Hopefully, you now have a good understanding of the pros and cons of straw use.

It can certainly help mitigate the effects of acidic and sugary beverages on your teeth, but it may cause some other issues if you’re not careful. If in doubt, opt for water instead of any other beverage.

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