Orthodontic treatment is common for both children and adults. Though the type of treatment and appliances used varies from patient to patient, a large percentage of those treated wear fixed braces for some period of time. It is necessary to make some diet modifications during this time to protect the hardware in the mouth and to avoid other dental health issues. For this reason, it is wise to avoid or eliminate certain types of drinks.
Oral hygiene is a challenge when wearing braces. The countless nooks and crannies created by the brackets and wires in the mouth make brushing more challenging, which leaves teeth more vulnerable to decay. Soft drinks exacerbate this problem by coating the surfaces of the teeth and gums with harmful sugars and acids. Dental professionals have become increasingly concerned in recent years about the effects of highly acidic foods and drinks on tooth enamel. Research shows that when these things are consumed frequently or sipped on a consistent basis, the acids can cause significant damage to tooth enamel. Even diet soft drinks are still highly acidic.
Sports drinks are often the go-to alternative for individuals looking to cut back on soft drink consumption. It is assumed they are a healthier option because they are consumed by athletes. However, a typical sports drink can contain surprising levels of sugar. Additionally, these drinks contain acidic preservatives similar to those found in soft drinks, leading to further weakening of tooth enamel. For patients wearing braces, those sugars and acids can wreak havoc on teeth when brushing and flossing are less than perfect.
100 Percent Fruit Juices
You can't go wrong with fruit juice, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, fruit juices--particularly those that are 100 percent juice--contain the same problematic ingredients of soft drinks and sports drinks. Most juices have high levels of sugars and are naturally acidic. Therefore, fruit juices should be limited or eliminated while wearing braces to ward off potential risk of tooth decay.
While wearing braces, patients are encouraged to drink abundant water, preferably from the tap. Tap water most often contains fluoride, which strengthens tooth enamel, while bottled waters usually don't. Similarly, milk is a healthy option that is relatively low in sugars and acids and carries the added benefit of calcium, which also promotes healthy teeth and bones.