Plastic Straws & Oral Health | Airport Road Dental Associates


One of the more prominent beverage changes in recent years has been the reduction of plastic straw use. Many states and cities have banned plastic straw use, forcing people to change the way they drink to protect the environment. While helping the environment comes with benefits, you should also consider your oral health and the impact such a lifestyle change has.

Learn exactly how straws impact your oral health and what alternatives you have if you want to help the environment and avoid the use of plastic straws.

Drink Exposure to Teeth

Many dentists recommend the use of straws for your teeth because a straw redirects the acids and sugars found in drinks like soda and coffee. As you suck up liquids from the straw, the liquids go behind the teeth and down your throat. If you eliminate straw use, the drinks will immediately hit your teeth and stay on the surface until they are brushed away.

Extended exposure to sugary or acidic drinks can break down enamel, cause cavities, and may lead to gum disease like gingivitis. When you eliminate straws from your drinks, try to alternate between your favorite drinks and a standard cup of water. The water will help remove sugars from your mouth and wash away bacteria. You may want to consider the elimination of sugar-based drinks altogether. Liquid-based sugar exposure is one of the most common enemies of the mouth.

Along with changing your daily straw use habits, you can change your sugar habits as well. Consider using sugar alternatives in your drinks. One of the least harmful options is the plant-based stevia. The calorie-free sugar substitute is a sweet addition ideal for coffee, teas, and sugar-free drink mixes.

Some studies have even shown that stevia can prevent the formation of plaque in your mouth. When you pair stevia with a change in straw use, you can maintain a healthy smile and avoid cavities. You could also increase your brushing regimen or use a mouthwash more frequently. 

Straw Alternatives

Thankfully, plastic straws are not the only option for drinks. When on the go, you can use straw alternatives that do not present as many environmental issues. Paper straws are available upon request at many businesses. The paper is biodegradable and you have recycling options. Bamboo straws are another natural option to consider for disposable straws.

You could also purchase a reusable stainless steel straw to eliminate any waste. The straws typically come with cleaners so you can scrub the inside of the straw between uses. The straw alternatives will help keep liquids away from your teeth and have extra environmental perks.

When you use a harder material like a steel straw, you should be VERY aware of your teeth. Do not bite down on the straw or knock it into your teeth. If you bite hard, you could crack or chip your teeth. You may also want to keep a steel straw in a loose drink as opposed to a tight cover. If the straw has no movement, you could easily jam the steel into your teeth or gums.

Injured gums could lead to more advanced problems including infections. You do not want to accidentally peel away any of the gum and expose the root of a tooth. If you hit hard enough, you may notice the tooth is loose. After several uses of a steel straw, however, you will get used to the straw’s texture and strength.

To avoid the dangers found with using steel straws, then consider softer materials like silicone. Silicone straws are reusable, come in multiple colors, and are easy to transport when seeking drinks on the go. The softer materials are far safer and kinder to tooth and gum structures. Just try not to chew on the straws and cause any extra stress for your teeth.

Book an appointment with us at Airport Road Dental Associates. We can perform a full cleaning and answer any questions you have about your dental health.