In Soft Drinks and Your Teeth (Part I), we discussed the effects of soft drinks on dental health and the mechanism through which soft drinks erode the teeth. In this article, we will discuss the various ways to minimise the harmful effects of soft drinks on teeth.
* Do drink still mineral water
Drinking still water will help to dilute the acid in the mouth as well as wash away any bacteria present. Some types of still mineral water are alkaline in nature and this is more effective at neutralising the acid.
* Do rinse mouth with tap water
Gargling and rinsing the mouth with tap water has a similar effect and helps to mitigate the acidity of soft drinks.
* Do chew sugar free gum
Chewing sugar-free gum helps to increase the flow of saliva. With more saliva in the mouth, acid in the soft drinks will be neutralized to a larger extent as well as being washed away. According to the American Dental Association, chewing sugar-free gum for up to 20 minutes following meals can help to prevent tooth decay.
* Do not brush your teeth immediately
This may seem counterintuitive as brushing your teeth is supposed to remove food particles and bacteria from the mouth. However, brushing your teeth immediately will further aggravate the weakened tooth and the mechanical motion may further damage the tooth enamel. As such, it is important to wait for at least an hour to give the tooth surface an opportunity to remineralise. In the meantime, the above steps can be implemented.
While all these steps are implemented after the soft drink is taken, there are several measures that reduce the effects of soft drinks at the point of consumption.
* Do consume soft drink with meal
* Do use a straw to consume soft drinks
Using a straw minimizes the contact between soft drinks and the surface of the teeth. This minimizes the erosive potential of soft drinks as the fluid is transferred directly to the posterior of the mouth and is swallowed.
* Do not sip soft drink over several hours
Sipping soft drinks over several hours increases the duration of exposure to acid in the soft drinks. This disrupts the re-mineralization process and as such soft drinks should be consumed at once if possible.