You want a healthy, bright smile, but you have been warned about the effects of coffee, alcohol and soda.

It is true; all soft drinks contain enamel-eroding acids. Iced-tea, once placed in a bottle or can, loses its bacteria-busting properties to flavor-enhancing organic acids that can erode your chompers, while your latte can stain your pearly whites and leave them sticky.  Booze, after metabolizing with your saliva, instantly turns into plaque.  Let’s face it, after a few cocktails what are the chances you will remember to brush your teeth?  By morning, simple brushing won’t do the trick.

How can you impede the decay?

1)  Use a straw and don’t swish – Bypass the teeth by sending the offending liquid through a straw to the back of the mouth.  Unless you are an oenophile, there is no point in swishing liquid through your teeth.  This compounds the effect of both sugars and acids.

2)   Use water as a mouthwash – Water makes the perfect rinse to clear sugars and acids after eating or drinking.

3)    Wait 20 minutes to brush – Brushing is recommended after every meal, but doing so after consuming an acidic food or beverage introduces more acid leaving enamel vulnerable to damage.  Let saliva take over and re-mineralize your teeth first.  Then it should be safe to brush.

Whereas the negative impact of these dubious delights cannot be eliminated, we do have some control in slowing them down.  However, nothing beats a proper dental routine of daily brushing and yes, DAILY flossing, along with bi-annual visits to your trusted dental care provider.

OMAR S. ABDO, DDS, MS, FACP  board certified prosthodontist