Surprising Side Effects Of Drinking Through A Straw

According to the National Resources Defense Council, the world produces nearly 300 million tons of plastic per year, half of which are single-use plastics, like straws. Over the last several years, cities and countries (and even companies, like Starbucks) around the world have been banning single-use plastic straws, and reusable or sustainable straws have become all the rage. While aesthetically-pleasing monochromatic silicone straws, sustainable bamboo straws, glass or paper versions, or any other variation, may be better environmental alternatives, you might be surprised to know that any type of straw may actually be negatively impacting your health.

Drinking through a straw may be more convenient in some circumstances, but there are some downsides as well. When you use a straw to enjoy your beverages, your mouth may actually be trapping more air (via Healthline). This air then travels throughout the digestive tract, leading to excess gas and bloating. So if you'd like to pass on unnecessary flatulence or belching, skip the straw.

Perhaps one of the most striking physical side effects of drinking through a straw is the development of "smoker's lips." This refers to the longitudinal deep wrinkles that occur over time around the mouth and lips. Since you're pursing your lips in the same manner whether you're smoking or drinking from a straw, it could in essence be renamed as "straw drinker's lips."

How using straws can affect your teeth

Another downside to straw use is the potential increase in cavities and staining of the back teeth (via The Washington Post). While using a straw may actually decrease staining of your front and foremost teeth, your back teeth bear the brunt. Tooth staining is likely with coffee and tea drinks. Cavities, on the other hand, are likely when you're consuming excessively sugary drinks. The concentrated stream of liquid aimed towards the back of the mouth provides for just the right combination of elements to erode your enamel and potentially lead to cavity formation.

While there are environmental and health downsides to straw use, there are some instances in which they may be beneficial. This is true particularly in people with motor, strength, and swallowing disabilities. In these circumstances, straw use may be critical to adequate and appropriate hydration and nutrition.

So the next time you have the option to go strawless, consider what it may mean in terms of your well-being.