Global warming is a major concern these days, especially for the youth! At Epic Dentistry for Kids, we believe it’s super important for everyone to consider how they can help reduce consumption and preserve the environment. Our Aurora pediatric dentist, Dr. Patterson, encourages all of our patients and their families to look into how they can help our planet. Every little effort counts!
One eco-friendly trend that has been making waves is the use of reusable or compostable straws! Straws are a great way to enjoy tasty drinks without exposing the teeth to staining pigments or excess sugar, but regular disposable plastic straws are extremely difficult to recycle.
Often, they get stuck in landfills or, worse, tossed into our oceans, harming vulnerable wildlife. That’s why many cities have implemented straw bans in restaurants and cafes.
Nowadays, many people have invested in their own reusable or compostable straws that they can bring wherever they need. At Epic Dentistry for Kids in Aurora, we’re huge proponents of these alternatives because they allow our patients to protect their teeth without harming the environment!
However, not the manufacture of straws doesn’t use a single type of material, so it’s important to check whether they’re compatible with your teeth first. Children can be especially sensitive to these new types of straws, so here’s how to choose the right straw for your child’s teeth!
Stainless Steel Straws
Definitely, one of the most common alternatives nowadays. Stainless steel straws are one of the most popular and inexpensive types of reusable straws. They’re extremely durable and easy to use.
However, if your child is prone to chewing on their straws, this may not be the best option! It can be hard to train your child out of a habit, and you don’t want your child gnawing on a hard surface like a stainless steel straw all day. This could cause major damage to their enamel and even lead to a cracked tooth in extreme situations.
Since stainless steel is a metal, it’s also a great heat conductor. This means you and your family should avoid using stainless steel straws for hot drinks. It’s easy to burn yourself on the drink and the straw.
We love glass straws because they’re beautiful and easy to clean, but they’re definitely not the best option for young children. Glass is easy to break, and if it does, the resulting shards are extremely dangerous.
These delicate utensils are also pretty high maintenance. We only recommend them to adults or responsible teens. Even then, make sure to keep them well out of reach from younger family members!
One of our pediatric dentist’s favorite reusable straws for children is silicone! Silicone is soft and bendy like a regular plastic straw, so even if your child is still teething, they won’t hurt themselves. Like plastic straws, silicone straws are very flexible, making them a great option for people with disabilities as well.
Plus, silicone straws are dishwasher-friendly, so you won’t have to worry about individually scrubbing them. Our pediatric dentist thinks they are a great option for kids and adults of all ages!
The most environmentally-friendly straw is probably the bamboo straw! There’s little to no processing involved with these – a bamboo stalk is simply cut and cleaned. Bamboo straws are also 100% natural and compostable.
On the downside, bamboo doesn’t last forever. A bamboo straw can probably be used 10 – 20 times before it starts to disintegrate. Because of this, we don’t always recommend bamboo straws to young kids.
We don’t want any of our patients getting splinters from their bamboo straws! If you do plan on getting bamboo straws for the family, make sure to warn everyone to be extra careful during their last few uses of the straw.
For a fun, convenient, disposable alternative to plastic straws, consider paper ones! They’re really cute and easy to use. Unfortunately, they don’t last too long, so you will probably have to dispose of them after one use.
Paper can also get pretty soggy if you leave it in your drink too long, and it can become a choking hazard if your child bites off a piece. A good way to prevent this from happening is by keeping an eye on your child as they sip their drinks and making sure to throw away the straws before they get too soggy.
From a child’s standpoint, these are probably the best straws on the market. They’re sweet, disposable, and environmentally friendly. From the perspective of a pediatric dentist in Aurora, however, these are the worst!
Sour punch straws and licorice both function as straws, but they have way too much cavity-causing sugar. It’s also really easy to get these types of candy stuck in the back of the teeth. Since bacteria feed on sugar, this may result in plaque and dental decay.
Instead of purchasing any insidiously sweet candy straws, opt for a pasta straw! These reusable, edible straws come from uncooked pasta dough. They are completely biodegradable, and you can easily dispose of them after one use. Unlike paper straws, they won’t get all soggy, and unlike candy straws, they don’t have a bunch of dangerous sugar!
What to Drink?
Once you’ve picked the perfect straw, make sure you have the perfect drink, too! According to our Aurora pediatric dentist, some soft drinks are heavy contributors to the development of cavities, tooth decay, and dental caries. When children sip on sweet drinks, they are constantly coating their mouths in sugar and giving bacteria the opportunity to damage their teeth.
Many drinks, like fruit juice and sodas, are also extremely acidic. This combination can quickly wear down the enamel of the teeth. Brightly pigmented drinks like teas and coffees can also stain the teeth, making your child’s smile less bright.
To avoid all these issues, encourage your kids to drink water or milk over other options! Our pediatric dentist in Aurora states that drinking water is a great way to stay hydrated and flush harmful sugar from the mouth. Milk is loaded with calcium and vitamin D, two elements that keep the teeth strong.
Benefits of Using Straws to Drink Your Beverage
Drinking most beverages with a straw can help your kids’ teeth in the long run. Furthermore, it can also benefit their overall health. Let’s overview some of them:
- Prevents Tooth Staining. Using a straw to drink your favorite beverage helps minimize any contact between the liquid and your teeth. This is especially helpful when the patient likes to drink sodas, black tea, and cold coffee beverages as they can easily stain their teeth. Patients with orthodontic appliances can also use straws to prevent staining of their braces or clear aligners.
- Protects Teeth from Sugar. The same reason behind reason number 1 helps here too. As we minimize contact between sugary liquids and your teeth, we also minimize the risks of leaving sugar particles trapped between or all over your teeth. This is helpful when you want to avoid tooth decay which, let’s face it, should always be the case.
- Encourages Hydration. Some researchers and professionals agree that drinking through a straw can help people drink more water more often. You already know all of the benefits of frequent consumption of water. Need we say more?
- Improves Dental Hygiene. These really are a bunch of good things. As you reduce the sugar in your kids’ mouths, you encourage good oral hygiene. This way, your kids’ oral hygiene routine won’t have so much work to eliminate any harmful bacteria from around their teeth
Trust Your Aurora Pediatric Dentist
Epic Dentistry for Kids is a pediatric dental office located in Aurora, CO. We try to provide our patients with amazing service and advice! Preventative care is essential to maintaining healthy teeth and bones. If you’d like to learn more about us, head over to our page dedicated to Dr. Patterson, a talented pediatric dentist in Aurora.