What makes bubble tea so bad for your teeth?

Happy bubble tea day!

Who doesn’t like bubble tea? This Taiwanese drink, which is made from tea, milk, and sugar, has quickly stolen the heart of Singaporeans ever since it was first introduced here. The drink is even more shiok as it comes with its signature accompanying topping, the pearl so you have something to chew on while drinking this delicious drink. Like any other sugary drink, bubble tea can be detrimental to your health, especially your teeth. However, what makes bubble tea especially bad compared to other sugary drinks? Let us find out!

Sugar, sugar, and SUGAR!

Yes, you have guessed it. The main reason why bubble tea is so bad for our teeth is due to its ginormous sugar content. As compared to a normal can of coke, one 500mL cup of bubble tea contains almost 3 times more sugar. No wonder bubble tea is so sweet!

If you have read our article about dental caries, you may already know that sugar is the main food source for the bacteria community in our mouths. Keep feeding these bacteria and you will get acid in return. The acid can damage your teeth structure, and over time, caries lesions can develop into decay, which can be very painful.

Pearls: chewy and sticky fun

In the 1940s, European researchers wanted to observe the effect of carbohydrates on the development of caries in young adults, and hence the Vipeholm study was conducted. Subjects of the experiment were given food of different stickiness at different frequencies over a while, to trigger caries formation. At the end of the research period, results were collected and it gave empirical evidence that frequent consumption of sweet and sticky food (they used taffy at that time), increases the likelihood of caries by a lot.

In the context of bubble tea itself, the component of the drink that is almost equivalent to taffy is the pearl itself, especially if it is infused with brown sugar. The stickiness of pearl will increase the time the tooth is exposed to sugar, such that it is more susceptible to caries.

Bubble tea outlet is literally everywhere

Whichever part of Singapore we go to, there will always be at least one or two bubble tea outlets here and there. And, no matter what time of the day it is, the shop often has a queue of customers awaiting their order number to appear on the screen. The convenience of getting bubble tea makes it easy for us to buy one whenever we crave sweet things. Additionally, as we can consume bubble tea conveniently, be it when we are walking down the street or when we are working at the office, we tend to consume bubble tea over some time instead of in one sitting. This makes bubble tea even more dangerous as it constantly exposes our teeth to the sugary drink over and over again.

Now that you are aware of the dangers of consuming bubble tea, it does not mean that you cannot consume it at all. Read our next article on how you can make your bubble tea less dangerous for your teeth!