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Time To Spill The "T"...On Tea!

Most people would probably agree, iconic movies all share certain common traits, and top among those would be dialogue that tends to capture an honest “voice” of genuine people and highly quotable lines that ring true. In "Steel Magnolias" one of these pithy Southern women references iced tea as "the house wine of the South"... bringing us to our topic du jour.

So, with Queen Elizabeth II observing her "official" birthday this month, along with #NationalIcedTeaDay a couple of weeks ago on June 10th, we’re all ready to honor "the house wine of the South"... especially in light of the fact we’re located deep in the heart of Texas’ sweltering summer heat!

While Texas may not be considered the true "Heart of Dixie" we certainly understand – and appreciate – the joys of a big ol’ glass of freshly-brewed iced tea, on a steamy June day! And, that Southern ingenuity can most certainly be credited with the advent of iced tea, with recipes for iced punches calling for tea mixed with assorted fruits and juices – not to mention some more “adult libations” – dating back to the 1800s.

However, it took the St. Louis World’s Fair – memorialized in another iconic movie, "Meet Me In St. Louis" – for this beverage to gain nationwide recognition and acceptance. It seems a tea plantation owner set up a booth to sell, big surprise, tea to fair goers. But, anyone who has ever spent a summer in St. Louis knows the heat and humidity rising from the Mississippi River Valley can be truly oppressive.

Now, take June rising temperatures and stifling humidity, then couple that with a circa 1900 Victorian wardrobe and you can easily see why our tea vendor, Richard Blechynden found it QUITE difficult to entice World’s Fair visitors to sample his wares. Then inspiration hit…Blechynden got a bucket of ice and poured his tea into the container – and a national sensation was born!

Those of us at Best Choice Dental have been known to enjoy our fair share of iced tea, especially during the 9-month summers here in Texas. But, of all the cool beverages we may turn to, when temperatures begin to inch toward the century mark… iced tea is actually one of the BEST choices for our teeth!

Anyone following our regular blog posts should be quite familiar with the science and anatomy of conditions that promote tooth decay. Counted among the key factors we’ve discussed is bacterial acid production that erodes your precious tooth enamel. Unfortunately, EVERY beverage – with the exception of water – contains SOME acid, which works in concert with those nasty bacteria to destroy your beautiful smile!

Consider those high school chemistry classes, where litmus strips demonstrated the pH levels in different substances. With "7" considered a neutral pH, which is where we find water, and "1" registering HIGHLY acidic, where we find your car’s battery acid, let’s take a look at the acid levels in some of our favorite beverages:

  • Water: 7.0 
  • Milk: 6.8 
  • Coffee: 6.5 
  • TEA: 5.5 
  • Root Beer: 4.2 
  • Tomato Juice: 4.1 
  • Sprite: 3.4 
  • Orange Juice: 3.3 
  • Diet Coke: 3.3 
  • Mountain Dew: 3.2 
  • V8 Juice: 3.0 
  • Grape Juice: 3.0
  • Apple Juice: 2.9
  • Hawaiian Fruit Punch: 2.8
  • Orange Minute Maid: 2.8
  • Coca-Cola: 2.5
  • Gatorade: 2.5
  • Monster/Red Bull: 2.4 
  • White Grape Juice: 2.1 
  • Lucas Powder: 2.0 
  • BATTERY ACID: 1.0 

We’re not saying you should NEVER partake of your favorite beverages, but as Dental professionals we just want you to be aware of the consequences and take the proper precautions to prevent the devastating damage acids in these drinks can cause. Ponder this thought: the enamel on your teeth begins to DISSOLVE at a 5.5 pH! So, just avoid sipping on beverage for hours on end… and after you finish your cool, refreshing drink, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water. Or, better yet, consider substituting water for some of your daily beverages!

But, as good folks from the South, we certainly wouldn’t deny you a tall, cold glass of iced tea to slake that summer heat. As you can see, it’s DEFINITELY better for your teeth than one of those "energy drinks." So, in honor of National Iced Tea Day earlier this month, brew up a glass and let’s give a toast to "the house wine of the South." Cheers!