Michael E. Knauss Family Dentistry

5686 North 103rd Street

Omaha, NE 68134

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Does Using A Straw Really Protect Your Teeth?

July 26, 2018

 

The debate over the use of straws to prevent cavities has been a long battle. -But the recent announcement by the giant coffee chain, Starbucks, has sparked many concerns and discussions all over social media: they will be phasing out plastic straws by 2020.

 

Many people believe that drinking an acidic, sugary, or even colored drink (such as coffee) with a straw can help to prevent cavities and teeth from staining. The reality is that if you can taste the drinks when using a straw, chances are the beverage is in contact with your teeth. You can’t prevent cavities using a straw. However, you might be able to minimize the damage from the drink by positioning the straw towards the back of your mouth and sipping the drink straight down the throat. Unfortunately, it’s probably not the most comfortable thing to do.

 

There is very little to no evidence that straws can help prevent cavities. In fact, some studies found that straws may increase the risk of decay and cavities for those who frequently direct the liquid to a particular area in their mouth.

 

Not only that, straws might do more harm than good- it might affect how you feel and how you look. How’s that? If you ever noticed you feel more bloated or gassy after drinking beverages with a straw, chances are the straw is the culprit. When you drink with a straw, you’re drawing in more air with the liquid with every sip, causing bloating, burping, gas and abdominal pain.

 

Dr. Jennifer Inra, a gastroenterologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, actually advised her patients to avoid using a straw too.