Can a Straw Prevent Stains?
You’ve probably been told that drinking certain beverages can stain your teeth. Popular drinks can cause your teeth to become discolored and even make you more self-conscious about your smile.
Avoiding these beverages altogether may be the most obvious way to keep your teeth stain-free. But on the other hand, many people claim that using straws can also prevent discoloration as well. Is this really the solution to preventing stains, or is it just a myth?
Which Drinks Stain Your Teeth?
Before you decide if you should use a straw or not, it’s important to know which drinks can stain your teeth. The following beverages can easily stain your teeth to some extent:
- Soda — light, dark, or diet
- Wine — red, white, or rose
- Coffee — caffeinated or decaf
- Tea — black, green, and brightly colored
- Fruit Juice — dark colored such as fruit punch or grape juice
These drinks all contain dark compounds that can easily be transferred to your teeth while you consume them. Since your teeth are naturally white, drinking them may quickly cause discoloration.
You might think choosing a lighter soda or wine option will prevent stains, but this, unfortunately, isn’t true. According to Dr. Barry Brace in St. Louis, MO, these beverages still have high levels of acidity, which can erode your enamel and make your teeth more susceptible to stains.
How Straws Can Decrease Staining
If you enjoy drinking these refreshments but want to avoid discoloration, try drinking through a straw. Make sure to sip with the straw behind your teeth to prevent direct contact with your teeth’s enamel.
However, try not to bite the straw or allow it to touch the front of your teeth. It’ll reduce the effectiveness of the straw and increase your chances of stains. While this approach won’t completely prevent your teeth from changing color, it’ll slow down the staining process.
If you decide to use a straw, eco-friendly dentists like Dr. Sirisha Krishnamurthy in Folsom, CA recommend using metal or paper straws instead of plastic.
Why Staining is Still Possible
Many people, including dentists, agree that straws can significantly prevent your teeth from stains, others disagree. They claim that straws aren’t only ineffective, but they’re also harmful to the environment.
When you consume a dark, acidic beverage, it can spread quickly throughout. Even if you’re careful enough to have it only touch the back of your teeth and tongue, the liquid can still spread to the front of your teeth.
The only way to fully prevent stains while using a straw is by directing the liquid straight to your throat without it touching any part of your mouth. You might not be able to savor the flavor, but you’ll avoid tarnishing your smile.
Other Ways to Protect Your Smile
The best way to prevent discoloration is to avoid dark or highly acidic beverages. Not only can they harm the color of your smile, but they can also cause tooth decay. On top of that, they have the ability to dry out your mouth, allowing more bacteria to stick to your teeth.
If you want to keep your smile as white as possible, consider the following tips approved by knowledgeable dentists, like Dr. Ralph Mensah in Mebane, NC.
Rinse With Water After Drinking
Drinking water during or after consuming dark-colored beverages is a good way to prevent stains. It helps rinse the staining properties out of your mouth, making them less likely to settle into your enamel. It’s essential that you do this before brushing your teeth.
After rinsing your mouth with water, it’s crucial that you brush your teeth. However, you should wait about 30 minutes to do so. If you brush your teeth immediately after drinking a beverage like wine or coffee, you’ll brush the dark compounds and acid into them and cause stains.
When purchasing toothpaste, look for ones that contain baking soda, fluoride, or peroxide. These stain-fighting ingredients can help protect the appearance of your teeth.
Drink Alternative Beverages
The best way to keep your teeth as white and healthy as possible is by not drinking these dark-colored drinks altogether. While this may be a difficult transition at first, it’ll be highly beneficial in the long run.
Water is the best alternative to drink and can benefit your teeth rather than harm them. However, many people get tired of its lack of taste and prefer to drink beverages with different flavors.
If you prefer drinks with a splash of flavor, consider the following drinks that won’t stain your teeth:
- Sparkling water — there are a variety of brand and flavors to choose from, and some have a splash of natural fruit juice
- Milk –– not only is this a stain-free option, but it’ll also strengthen your teeth
- White Tea — unlike darker teas, white tea won’t stain your teeth
Say Good-Bye to discolored Teeth
If you frequently enjoy dark-colored beverages and have noticed your teeth becoming brown or yellow, receiving a whitening treatment will brighten your smile. Cosmetic dentists offer in-office whitening services that will make your smile multiple shades brighter.
If you want to whiten your teeth on your own time, ask your dentist about take-home strips. This is a good option for patients with sensitive teeth and allows you to whiten your smile from the comfort of your own home.