Temple Times Online Edition
    SEPTEMBER 15, 2005
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Using a straw to drink soda might fight tooth decay

A recent School of Dentistry study found that using a drinking straw might be the best way to fight cavities and soda-induced dental erosion. Restorative dentistry professor Mohamed A. Bassiouny determined that when positioned correctly, a straw can help decrease the amount of acid from beverages, such as soft drinks, that comes in contact with the teeth.

“The most susceptible areas of the teeth are those directly exposed to the acid found in carbonated drinks,” Bassiouny said. “Therefore, the length of time the fluid remains in the mouth and in contact with teeth greatly affects the amount of damage the teeth sustain.”

For this study, published in the May/June issue of General Dentistry, Bassiouny studied straw use and the impact that frequent soda consumption has on tooth enamel, which helps to protect the tooth’s structure and prevents decay.

“The straw did not completely eliminate decay, but its use concentrated the liquid in the mouth, rather than dispersing it, forcing the liquid to cause less damage to fewer teeth,” Bassiouny said.

Experts believe that having an occasional soft drink is OK. But according to the American Dental Association, Americans consume more then 53 gallons of carbonated soft drinks per person every year. In fact, soft drink consumption surpasses that of all other beverages, including milk, beer, coffee and water.

To prevent tooth decay when drinking soda, Bassiouny has the following recommendations:

• place the straw behind your teeth, resting on your tongue, which also allows acid-neutralizing saliva to trim the amount of acid that will come in contact with your teeth;
• reduce the volume of soda you drink each day;
• avoid soda before bedtime;
• when possible, rinse your mouth with water after you’ve had a soda.

- By Tory Harris