Do Straws Prevent Cavities?

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strawsYou may have heard that using a straw while drinking soda protects your teeth from cavities. Is that really true? The answer is: kinda.

The only way to prevent soda from feeding the bacteria on your teeth is to keep the soda from touching your teeth. So if you position the end of the straw near the back of your mouth and swallow it quickly you can limit how much soda touches your teeth.

Of course, doing that also limits how much of the soda you get to taste. Most people don’t do it that way. If you keep the end of the straw in front of your teeth, of course, it does absolutely nothing to prevent soda from getting on your teeth.

The best way to protect your teeth from soda, and everything else you eat and drink, is to brush and floss daily. Soda and candy can be especially dangerous because sticky, sugary foods are more likely to be left on your teeth where they can feed the acid-making bacteria that cause cavities. But even foods like bread and rice feed the bacteria. If you never ate candy or drank soda, you’d still need to brush and floss every day to keep your smile bright and healthy.

You also need to see your pediatric dentist regularly. Usually that means twice a year, but your dentist may need to see you more often for special treatment. Only your dentist can get hard tartar safely off your teeth. Your dentist can also take x-rays that allow them to actually see what’s going on inside your teeth. No matter how small or hidden the problem, your pediatric dentist can find it before it becomes painful.

So don’t rely on straws alone to protect your teeth. You have to do your part every day with brushing and flossing. And you have to let your dentist do their part. Together, as a team, you can keep your smile bright and pretty.

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