Everyone knows that the healthiest beverage for your overall health is good old H2O. Community system fluoridated water is especially handy, as it helps prevent tooth decay by strengthening your tooth enamel. The very act of drinking water helps rinse and flush out food particles and sugars from your mouth, keeping it clean and freshening your breath.
But not everyone lives on water alone - what about other beverages we occasionally enjoy? Today we’re taking a look at how drinking wine, tea, and milk can impact our dental (and overall) health.
If you indulge in the occasional glass of merlot, you may already have heard of the naturally occurring antioxidants found in wine. But how do those antioxidants affect our oral health?
Back in 2007, researchers in Italy discovered that both red and white wine contain compounds that are effective against oral streptococci, a bacteria that significantly contributes to tooth decay. In 2014, a study was published revealing that red wine has anti-microbial properties against 3 different strains of bacteria found in plaque. And most recently, a 2018 study found that the polyphenols and probiotic strains found in red wine actually help prevent certain types of bacteria from adhering to gum tissue, reducing the formation of plaque.
So while we don’t recommend throwing out your mouthwash just yet, a celebratory glass or two of wine can actually improve your dental health!
Another beverage chock-full of antioxidants, tea offers a similar range of supportive benefits to oral health. Green tea and green tea extract, in particular, have been proven to inhibit growth and activity in 4 different bacteria strains that contribute to periodontal disease and formation of cavities. Additionally, a large study in Japan was published in 2010 that showed a strong correlation between green tea consumption and less tooth loss. Oolong tea has also been shown to result in a “significant reduction” in cavities and plaque accumulation.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that both red wine and tea are notorious for staining teeth, causing discoloration that may be difficult to remove at home. Our tip to minimize unsightly staining? Consider sipping your beverage of choice through a straw - it may seem strange, but keeping your smile pearly white is worth it! And remember to rinse and/or brush as soon as possible.
You probably know already that it does our bodies good. Specific to dental health, the calcium found in milk promotes the healthy formation and growth of jawbones and teeth in young children. In older children and adults, milk strengthens our teeth and reduces plaque pH drop caused by sugary foods. The principal investigator of the study noted that due to milk’s higher pH, it helps fight cavities and supports remineralization of the tooth, as well as slowing the formation of plaque. The study concludes that drinking a glass of milk several minutes after eating cereal, cookies, or other sugary foods could help prevent cavity formation and growth.