Our Dentists in Claremont have a strong passion for oral hygiene and are here to provide clarity on all matters and myths related to dental health.
One of the matters that has recently become the subject of most conversations is straws, their environmental impact and whether or not they actually protect your teeth from stains and other potential damage.
Straws are one of the most widely used single-use plastics and therefore are arguably one of the biggest contributors to the plastic pollution problem the world is currently facing. They are used once, sometimes for no longer than 5 minutes and are then discarded. *Straws take up to 200 years to decompose.
Eventually these straws make their way into our oceans and consequently cause serious harm to our precious marine environments.
Although there have been a few exaggerated statistics thrown around, claiming that Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day, there is no real evidence to support this according to the National Broadcasting Company of America. However, there is simply no denying the fact that countless straws are being used and discarded throughout the world on a daily basis.
Thankfully, there are many cities around the world that have implemented bans or major regulations regarding the general availability of plastic straws at relevant public establishments.
This ban has caused uproar by various groups of people, including disabled people, human rights activists and also people who use straws to protect their teeth from stains or damage.
However, we feel compelled to ask – do plastic straws really protect our teeth from stains or damage? Our dentists have answered this question, leaving us quite surprised with the outcome.
It is important to first note that Seattle is the first major city in the United States to successfully ban plastic straws entirely. Furthermore, there are many other countries and cities who are following suit – the entire United Kingdom is in the process of banning plastic straws completely.
Advocates for the disabled are showing concern for the impact this ban will have on disabled people’s ability to drink, especially when in public. Requests have been made for further discussion to take place to clarify how these proposals will accommodate the needs of disabled people while considering the needs of the environment.
However, if the only concern is using straws for absolute convenience or keeping your teeth pearly white, this is far less of an issue.
People who use plastic straws to drink coffee and carbonated drinks will quickly tell you it’s in order to protect their teeth from staining or other damages. Previously, dentists used to believe that reducing the contact between your teeth and these staining substances would prevent your teeth from discoloration.
However, todays beliefs are different. Using straws doesn’t keep red wine, fizzy drinks or coffee from touching your teeth.
Although straws do reduce contact between your teeth and liquids, they still do not provide 100% protection. In fact, there are other more effective techniques which can be used to prevent your teeth from getting damaged.
Contrary to most beliefs, it is not only dark beverages that can stain your teeth. In fact, white teas herbal teas and even white wine can erode your teeth’s enamel which results in staining.
Chewing tobacco, smoking, certain diseases and their treatments, tomato sauce and soy sauce can also cause staining. Therefore, it is clear to see that drinking with a straw to prevent tooth damage is definitely not an effective enough precaution on its own.
Aftercare is far more effective in preventing discoloration than drinking with straws. Rinsing your mouth with water immediately after drinking a staining liquid produces excellent results.
After eating or drinking somethings that has staining potential, first rinse your mouth with water and then brush your teeth if possible, chew a piece of sugarless chewing gum or swish your mouth with water. These methods not only effectively minimise the risk of staining but also assist with good breath.
Although straws provide disabled people with the ability to drink, they do not have to be plastic. Furthermore, plastic straws are not going to protect your teeth from damage or discoloration. If you feel that you need straws for the sake of convenience, invest in a reusable eco-friendly or biodegradable straw. Otherwise, take the pledge to skip the straw and help save our oceans.
For further advice on how to protect your teeth from staining and other damage, contact our dentist in Claremont today.
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