Reusable straws are gaining popularity as a sustainable alternative to disposable plastic straws, but there has been some controversy surrounding their safety. In 2016, Starbucks issued a widespread recall of their stainless steel straws following several laceration injuries in children, and just last summer, a British woman died after being impaled a metal straw in a fall. While death-by-straw is unlikely to become common, there are some legitimate concerns worth noting, and some steps you can take to both protect your teeth AND be an environmentally-conscious consumer.
For years, dentists have recommended the use of drinking straws. Straws limit the amount of contact between your drink and the surfaces of your teeth, thus protecting your enamel from being bathed in sugary or acidic fluids. Likewise, they can help prevent staining by keeping drinks like coffee, wine, and tea away from your teeth. Straws also allow those with sensitive teeth to still enjoy a glass of cold water without wincing.
However, some dentists have voiced concerns about both lacerations to the mouth and chipped teeth, while others have pointed out that challenges in cleaning the straws could allow for the growth of disease-causing molds and bacteria. Furthermore, it is important to correctly position the straw: if you don’t direct it towards the back of your mouth, you can actually increase the risk of cavities by continually directing your drinks to just a few teeth.
At Sardina Dental Group, we are firmly pro-reusable straw…but, not all reusable straws are created equal, and there are steps you can take to avoid the risks mentioned above. We recommend choosing a dishwasher safe, BPA-free silicone straw or a medical-grade stainless steel or titanium straw with a silicone tip. These straws are much easier to clean, last longer than bamboo straws, and are unlikely to shatter like glass straws. They are also less likely to cause injury than 100% steel or titanium varieties.
As long as you’re a conscious consumer, reusable straws can help keep your smile healthy while reducing your environmental impact. Drink up!