The Straw Myth: Why It Won’t Help Your Teeth


Have you seen some of those wine aficionados sipping their red stuff from a straw at your neighborhood wine bar? Or maybe you are the one that has turned to straws in your soda in an effort to save your pearly whites. If you are subscribing to the belief that sucking down beverages through a straw will save wear and tear on your teeth and prevent staining, think again. Dr. Kohani at La Jolla Cosmetic Dentistry and Orthodontics has some good reasons why use of straws may not be so great and other tips on how to protect your teeth from sugar and acid in your favorite beverages.

The Lowdown on Straws

Consider where you place your straw when you use it to drink a beverage. Chances are, you are placing it just behind your front teeth and in front of your tongue. This placement ensures you get to enjoy the full flavor from your coffee, soda or red wine. However, this placement does little to protect your teeth, since your mouth is still filled with the liquid of choice.

The sugar from sodas or the acid from wine and coffee still touches your teeth even when drinking through a straw. You may be sending the brunt of it to your molars, where cavities are most likely to result. However, even your front teeth are going to suffer exposure, as well as the decay and staining that can follow.

The only way you can really get much benefit from using a straw is to place the end of the straw at the back of your throat before sucking. While you may successfully protect at least some of your teeth, you won’t be able to enjoy much flavor from your beverage – which defeats the purpose of drinking the beverage in the first place.

Straws and Wrinkles

What you will get from regular straw use is facial wrinkles. The sucking action you use when drinking from a straw is the same action smokers use when they puff on a cigarette. This activity can lead to fine lines above the upper lip that have been appropriately dubbed “smoker’s lines.”

Straws and Gas

Using straws can also affect your digestive system and not in a good way. Every time you suck through the straw, you consume small pockets of air in addition to your beverage. This can lead to bloating and gas that can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing.

Better Choices

There are better ways to preserve and protect your smile than drinking through a straw. The best is to eliminate those sugary, acidic drinks completely and opt for water instead. However, if you simply can’t live without your afternoon soda or your morning coffee, there are other ways to maintain your teeth without giving up your favorite vice completely.

The best advice is to drink a glass of water after enjoying your beverage. The water effectively neutralizes the sugar or acid to keep it from settling on your teeth. You can also chew sugarless gum immediately after stimulate saliva production. The extra saliva is also effective in neutralizing the acid in your beverages.

You can also brush your teeth after your drink, but don’t do it right away. Instead, wait about 30 minutes to brush to avoid damaging the surface of the teeth when they are vulnerable. The brushing will remove the sugar and acid so they cannot lead to staining or tooth decay.

If you have already suffered the consequences from regularly partaking in your favorite beverage, Dr. Kohani can help. He offers numerous options in teeth whitening and smile enhancement to improve your appearance and restore your self-confidence. To learn more about these treatments, contact La Jolla Cosmetic Dentistry and Orthodontics at 858-295-0603.