Americans drink an average of one and a half cans of soda each day. Tomorrow, January 3, is the anniversary of the drinking straw. This simple invention can help protect your smile from beverages that can stain or erode your teeth. Visit Dr. Fondriest to see if using a straw will help keep your smile clean.
The History of the Straw
Marvin Stone began sipping a mint julep through natural rye grass. However, he found that the grass would fall apart in the liquid, leaving an unpleasant taste in the beverage. On January 3, 1888, Stone patented the paraffin-coated drinking straw. He winded strips of paper around a pencil and glued it together. Paraffin-coated Manila paper did not become soggy while drinking. Stone decided that the ideal straw would be 8 ½ inches long, with a diameter large enough to get the liquid through, but small enough that seeds would not become stuck in the tube. Years later, in 1937, a man named Joseph Friedman invented the bendable straw so it would be easier to choose a comfortable angle to drink from.
The Importance of a Straw
Soda, coffee, and other dark-colored beverages can stain your teeth. In addition, soda, milkshakes, and other sweet refreshments contain a lot of sugar that can attack your teeth and cause decay. Orange juice and other acidic beverages can cause your enamel to erode, making your teeth weaker and unprotected. The less contact these drinks have with your teeth, the less risk of ruining your smile. Drinking through a straw will reduce the amount of liquid that touches your teeth and therefore will help prevent beverages from damaging your smile.
Proper Straw Usage
For a straw to protect your teeth, it needs to be positioned properly. First of all, don’t ever bite or chew on your straw. Sticking the edge of a straw between your teeth can poke and damage your gums, or force a gap between your teeth. Also, don’t rest the straw against your teeth. Instead, sip your beverages through a straw positioned towards the back of your mouth and tongue. You want to make sure the liquid goes straight into your throat and doesn’t linger in your mouth before swallowing. Long-term puckering around the straw can also cause small wrinkles around your mouth, so make sure your lips are relaxed.
Although using a straw to sip your beverages may help reduce your chance of tooth decay and cavities, it’s still best to rinse your mouth out with water after drinking your sugary, acidic, or staining liquids. Visit Dr. Fondriest to help recover your stained or eroded smile. Contact us at (847) 234-0517 to set up an appointment. We welcome patients from the North Shore area of Chicago.