It’s summer, it’s hot, and everyone wants something cool and refreshing to drink. Companies that make soda and powdered drink mix spend a lot of money to convince the public that their products are the most thirst quenching. While many products can satisfy a parched throat, the aforementioned could have negative consequences on oral health. Of all beverage options, which is the best for teeth?

Sugar-Free Soda

Everyone knows the harmful effects of sugary drinks on teeth. As a result, for the past 50 years, soft drink manufacturers have promoted sugar-free beverages as a healthy, tooth-friendly alternative. Unfortunately, sugar-free soda can damage teeth due to high levels of acids which strip away tooth enamel. This erosion of enamel is more detrimental to dental health than sugar.

Energy Drinks and Juice

If soda and diet soda are both on your teeth’s enemies list, what about other beverages, like energy drinks or juice? A 2008 study showed that energy drinks can damage tooth enamel more than soda. Fruit juice containing citric acid, like grapefruit, lemon, or orange juice, can also strip the enamel from your teeth. Because many fruit juices contain beneficial vitamins, drink juice in one setting, rather than sipping it over a prolonged period, and drink it through a straw to minimize contact with teeth.

Bottled Water

Without question, water is considered the best beverage for teeth. Water washes away food debris without leaving a sugary or acidic residue, and it reduces dry mouth, which can lead to tooth decay. However, if you’re sipping your bottled water and feeling like you’re doing the best possible thing for your teeth, you’d be wrong. While bottled water is better for teeth than any type of soda, energy drink, or juice, it’s missing a crucial ingredient that your teeth love.

Tap Water

The beverage that provides the most oral health benefits is the one that comes from your faucet. Tap water has all the cleansing benefit of any type of water, with the addition of cavity-fighting fluoride.

America began the large-scale fluoridation of its water supply in 1951, after studying it for years. Fluoridated water was named by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century, for its ability to reduce tooth decay by 20-40%.

If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, or you’re worried about the presence of other chemicals, you can still have your bottled water; just be sure to supplement the missing fluoride by using a fluoride toothpaste, a fluoride rinse, or by having Dr. Brei apply fluoride with one of several types of fluoride treatments.

Enjoy your summer. Limit your intake of sodas, energy drinks, and juice. Drink lots of water, and if the water you drink doesn’t contain fluoride, get it from another source, because you won’t have an enjoyable summer if you have a toothache.