12 Drinks Ranked: Best and Worst for Your Teeth

Group of friends drinking from a straw

Ever finished a drink and noticed that your teeth feel grimy? Or filmy? Or clean? Everything you drink has the potential to impact your teeth — and you want to protect your smile from unsightly discoloration and deeper problems like erosion and decay. Here is a list of drinks to steer clear of and drinks that get the green light.

Bad News Drinks

1) Kombucha and vinegar-based drinks

These natural drinks are gaining popularity due to their potential health benefits. Kombucha, a bubbly, probiotic-packed drink, and drinks created with apple cider vinegar can be highly acidic, leading to enamel erosion and loss of minerals.

2) Cola

Everyone knows soda is terrible for your teeth. The high sugar content plus carbonation is a recipe for tooth decay on its own, but cola also tends to have the highest acidity of all soda types, leading to softened tooth enamel, too.

3) Mimosas

Sorry, brunch, but this mixed drink is going down the drain. Mimosas are sugary, acidic and bubbly— a triple whammy of tooth destruction. Plus, mimosas are the kind of drink you sip, meaning it has longer to sit on the teeth.

4) Coffee

If you're a coffee lover, this might hurt to hear. Drinking coffee on a regular basis can wear down your enamel, leading to sensitivity problems. It can also, of course, cause staining. However, coffee isn't terribly acidic, so a sugar-free cup now and then is probably fine.

5) Sweet tea

Iced tea can cause just as much staining as coffee, and if you're drinking it sweetened the traditional way, your teeth are in trouble. If you just can't help yourself, try making it with a sugar substitute and limiting the amount you drink in a day.

6) Energy drinks

While these drinks might be pumping you up, they can be wreaking havoc in your mouth. Energy drinks can cause serious damage to your enamel due to high acidity levels. In addition, the hyperactive energy can cause teeth-grinding, leading to tooth breakage and loss.

Better Choices

1) Root beer

Technically, soda probably doesn't belong on the "good" side of the list, but if you are going to drink it, root beer is the best option. It's less acidic than most sodas and therefore slightly less damaging to your teeth. However, still drink with caution — any soda is high in sugar and can stain your teeth and erode your enamel.

2) Sparkling water

There's a lot of debate about whether or not carbonated water is bad for your teeth. The good news is that most unflavored sparkling water is totally fine, says the ADA. However, be aware that additives like fruit flavorings can increase the water's acidity, even if it doesn't have any juice or sugar, so don't go overboard.

3) Light beer

Don't fret, beer lovers, there's hope. If you're in the mood for a beer, just grab a light one. They're usually less acidic, due to a higher water content, and won’t stain your teeth as much as darker-colored beers.

4) Coconut Water

If you get tired of drinking water (which is, of course, the healthiest option!) try coconut water, a super refreshing, antioxidant-packed option. It's also a great alternative to sports drinks, with electrolytes like potassium, calcium and magnesium. Just make sure you buy a brand that has a low sugar content.

5) Gin and soda water

Alcohol usually fall on the no-no list, but it you’re looking for a healthier option for your teeth, look to gin. It's the lowest acidity alcohol and doesn't contain any sugar. Opt for soda water instead of tonic, which contains sugar, and add a squeeze of lime.

6) Milk

Next to water, milk is the healthiest drink for your teeth. It protects tooth enamel, contains vitamins and calcium and can actually reduce tooth decay. You could even let some chocolate milk slide now and then (just be cautious of the amount of sugar).

The best way to protect your teeth is to avoid sugary, acidic drinks in general. You can also use a straw to limit a drink's contact with your teeth, brush your teeth before drinking anything dark-colored (so there's less plaque for the staining-agents to stick to), and drink water following any other beverage to rinse your mouth out. With this list of do's and dont's, you're ready to make smile-healthy drink decisions!

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Tips for a Healthy Diet

  • Foods high in sugar are a particularly common cause of tooth decay. Making these foods a treat rather than a staple will help protect your teeth.

  • To maintain a balanced diet, eat a variety of foods from each of the five major food groups.

  • When choosing a snack, go for nutritious foods such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt or a piece of fruit.