Why Drinking With a Straw Does Not Protect Your Teeth

Don't be fooled - drinking from a straw does not protect you from sugary drinks that cause cavities. Even worse, it'll cause wrinkles!

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Drinking With a Straw

Hi Dr. B! I've been told that drinking with a straw and chewing on straws can be bad for my teeth, but I've also been told that drinking acidic and sugary drinks through straws (e.g. coffee and juice) is actually safer for my teeth. Can you clear this up?

A: Vicki, It is often said, even by dentists, that drinking through a straw will lessen the exposure of teeth to staining from coffee and tea and the harmful effects of sugar from soda. This is absolutely not true and I disagree with most of my colleagues on this one. Here’s why: Next time you drink from a straw, try to notice if you can feel the drink from the straw touching your teeth or not.

I guarantee you will feel the drink on your teeth. When you drink from a straw, you put the tip of it between your lips and in front of the teeth, so the damaging effects of sugary sodas will still harm your teeth. For those people who hold the straw between their teeth, the back of the teeth are still exposed.

Keep in mind that the tongue is in constant contact with the teeth, so if any soda or coffee touches your tongue, it will also get on your teeth. If you’ve tasted the drink, the teeth have been exposed.

Therefore, the only way to protect your teeth using the straw method would be to place the tip of the straw at the back of the mouth behind the teeth and tongue so the liquid goes straight from cup to back of the throat without touching the teeth. Of course, at this point, it’s more like taking a shot than enjoying a juice or coffee, and defeats the whole purpose of drinking it!

There are also other concerns with drinking from straws. Drinking through a straw causes gas. It also causes wrinkles around the mouth; the puckering you do to sip from a straw emulates what smokers do when they take a drag on a cigarette, which gives them unsightly wrinkles around the upper lip.

I urge you to eliminate soda and juice from your diet (drink unsweetened green tea instead!), but if you must, enjoy them with a glass of water afterward. Drinking water (or rinsing with my DIY pH balancing mouth rinse) can help neutralize the acid from the drink, and it can also help prevent staining.

Brushing your teeth has the same effect, but if you choose to brush, be sure to wait at least 30 minutes after drinking. Your teeth are more vulnerable after consuming acidic foods and drinks, and brushing immediately can cause more damage to the enamel.

Hope this helps!

Mark Burhenne DDS

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  1. Dr. B, thanks for this tip. I now keep a glass of water next to my cup of coffee at my desk at work and I find that I am not only well hydrated, but have to pop in my whitening trays way less. Thank you!

  2. I’m strange, but the way I drink out of a straw is different from others. The straw goes behinds my teeth between my tongue and the roof of my mouth, I flex my tongue in a way that pushes the liquid to my throat, i can taste it and it generally only touches the roof of my mouth and my tongue. Kinda like a voluntary peristalsis with my tongue as the muscle.

    But I see where you’re coming from!

    • Anonymous says:

      Like a babies bottle lol

    • Maybe we’re doing it wrong but I’m pretty sure that’s how straws are meant to be used

      • I’ve actually tested with food dyes. Drinking from a straw does not allow liquids to bypass the teeth completely. I wouldn’t want to have my patients to have a false sense of security using a straw.

        Composed on my phone. Please excuse the brevity and any typos.

        Dr. Mark Burhenne | AsktheDentist.com Read reviews for The 8-Hour Sleep Paradox Facebook | Twitter | YouTube (408) 737-2100

        Schedule a Skype or phone consultation with me

    • This article assumes that everyone uses a straw in the same fashion. I, too, use my straw in the same method as Haimy and I feel absolutely no contact with my teeth. I’m not saying there isn’t any, particularly residual, but I feel nothing.

      Originally, the reason I did this was to solve another problem. One needs to first ask themselves why they are using a straw to begin with? The answer is to minimize contact of the beverage with the teeth. That brings up the other issue: using a straw on a regular basis is can cause wrinkles form around your mouth. Because of this, I moved the straw inside my mouth and use the suction from my palate and my tongue to siphon the beverage into the back of my throat.

  3. Me too, Haimy. I don’t pucker either, I hold my mouth pretty much the same way as I would to take a drink without the straw. I can definitely tell a difference in the sensitivity of my teeth when I use the straw. For this reason alone, I will continue to use one. I do need to try the water thing though. That’s a great idea!

  4. Really? Do you recommend brushing your teeth after an acidic drink? Rubbing all of the enamel away… This is really dangerous. I find it very ridiculous that you’re posting that, as an authority, on the internet.

    You should only brush twice a day, morning and evening. Always wait 2 hours after your last acidic meal with brushing. When brushing only do so with soft circular motion under an angle of 45 degrees mainly rubbing your gums.

    You can brush your tongue alot of times, alot of bacteria accumulate on the tongue, so this is very benificial for your dental health and I don’t understand why dentists don’t recommend this more often.

    Also inspect your teeth for excessive plaque with your tongue.

    Always drink things like soda or orange juice with a straw so that only the last 2 back tooth are touched by the juice. It’s almost impossible to prevent the beverages to touch none of the teeth and what’s the point if you don’t taste it? So if you get cavities it’s in the back of your mouth and no one will see it. It goes without telling that limiting your soda intake is a smart thing to do.

  5. Just because you taste the drink doesn’t correlate directly with exposure to teeth as my college psychology class clearly pointed out .Not only do we have taste receptors on our tongue ,but they are also found on surrounding mouth tissues.Can someone with out a tongue taste yes they can.Just food for thought.I still found this interesting.Thank you for the tip.

  6. david nelson says:

    Just take a look at this…..not oNLy wil it help w/ brain freeze but sensative teeth. NOT to carry on here, please get back to us. TY

    • And once more… in English?

  7. Hello! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group?
    There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your
    content. Please let me know. Thank you

    • Anonymous says:

      Myspace is still running?

  8. This possibly the worst advice I’ve seen, don’t ever brush your teeth after drinking fizzy drinks. If this advice was written by a “dentist” I suggest you look for another job

  9. James Smith DDS says:

    Brushing after drinking acidic drinks are extremely harmful. It will increase abrasions and erosions. It is recommended to wait 30 minutes before brushing.

    James R. Smith, DDS

  10. I Absolutely agree with the dentist…a straw will not prevent you from exposing your teeth to the fluid you’re drinking…even if you put in way towards the back of your mouth…liquids will coat the teeth. And yes, straws cause purse string wrinkles around the mouth and a also gas…it’s the first thing I take away from my patients when they are recovering from abdominal surgery and gas is a problem.

  11. i don’t get it. why cant we just have a new kind of straw invented?!?!

  12. Brenton Hietala says:

    This site was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Many thanks!

  13. Brittney Sito says:


    I’ve been trying to sip on lemon water all day (through a straw) to help prevent kidney stones. Will this eventually mess up my enamel or will in fact the straw help with protection?? I squeeze a whole lemon into a probably 25 once water bottle.

    Thank you!!

    • Mark Burhenne, DDS says:

      Hi there, Brittney!

      I’m sorry to say that the straw method does not help since as long as you taste the lemon water, your teeth do too. If you need to drink the lemon water, dilute it and drink it quickly as to minimize the effects on your enamel. Also, you should rinse well afterward and wait 30-45 mins to brush.

      Dr. B

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