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3 Supposedly Healthy Drinks That Hurt Your Teeth (And Six Alternatives)

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Even the most dedicated sugary soda and energy drink fans know their favorite beverages are affecting their health. Unfortunately, many of the drinks marketed as healthier choices still do a number on your teeth and gums. They might come with fewer calories but still contain plenty of ingredients that aren't good for the mouth. Protect your oral health with regular dentistry visits while enjoying a sip of something refreshing by swapping these three less than healthy options for better ones.

Diet Soda

You know the sugar in regular soda encourages the bacteria that leave you with cavities, so you switch your afternoon pop for a diet version in the interest of health. Unfortunately, those diet drinks still contain plenty of acids to eat away at the enamel on your teeth. If you're drinking diet sodas because you want to lose weight or are diabetic, keep in mind that these drinks actually cause weight gain instead of loss.

Keep the bubbles and flavor while shedding the acids and sugar by picking a sparkling water with natural flavoring and no artificial sweeteners. Mineral waters work well for people who can handle a little sodium in their diet. Coconut water is another good choice, as long as it's unflavored and unsweetened. Many coconut water products include more sugar than soda, so check labels before assuming you're really picking a healthier drink.

Sports Drinks

After a hard workout at the gym, it's natural to think you need a sports drink to balance your electrolytes again. However, sports drinks are heavy on both tooth-damaging sugars and acids while packing in a surprising number of calories. Unless you spent a few hours on the treadmill in one day, you likely don't need a major electrolyte infusion to prevent dehydration from setting in.

Stick to plain water for hydration during your workout and afterwards. Save the sports drinks for marathons and emergencies that leave you without a source of water for hours or days on end. If you do feel a little woozy after hitting the trail, try snacks offering electrolytes like pickles and orange slices. Even those these snacks also contain acids and sugars, chewing on them doesn't coat your mouth with the damaging substances as much as sipping a drink.

Fruit Juices

Fruit juices are sneaky. Whole fruit is pretty healthy when eaten in moderation, but the juices extracted from them are mostly concentrated sugar and flavor. Most of the popular fruit juices are also highly acidic, including the fancy blended drinks sold in health food stores.

Milk is a great alternative to fruit juice when you want something that's a little filling between meals. The higher pH can reverse the acidifying environment of the mouth and it's full of minerals and protein for overall mouth health. Plain green or herbal tea is another flavorful idea that will cause less tooth damage. If you have to drink fruit juice, try unsweetened varieties of these low-acid options:

  • Pear juice
  • Peach juice and nectar
  • Carrot juice
  • Liquefied cabbage, spinach, and other greens
  • Aloe Vera liquid
  • Watermelon juice and water
  • Prune and raisin juices
  • Blended wheatgrass
  • Strawberry nectar and smoothies
  • Blueberry concentrate
  • Raspberry and blackberry juices

Buying a juicer and fresh fruits is the best way to control both the sugar and acid levels in your drinks for better dental health.

Switching your favorite beverages for smarter options may require a few weeks of adjustment, but your teeth will thank you in the long run. Decades of sipping diet sodas and sports drinks can leave you in need of root canals or even extractions. Save your teeth for a life of chewing and biting by being careful about what you drink.