The 9 Worst Foods and Drinks for Your Teeth
We’d all like to believe foods affect our teeth in the same way, and generally good oral hygiene can protect us from most of bad stuff. Sadly, not all foods are created equal when it comes to our teeth. Some of our favorite foods and drinks are significantly worse for our mouths than others. But how do we know when we’re causing our teeth real damage?
There are a few key elements in foods or drinks that indicate a bad time for your smile. If it has sugar or carbonation, odds are they won’t do much good for you. But that certainly doesn’t mean you’re doomed to suffer from decaying teeth just from occasional consumption.
Most proliferating problems can be alleviated with brushing and flossing, but you can also avoid serious issues by forgoing consuming the following foods and beverages.
Consistent exposure to sugary substances is bad for your teeth. The longer the exposure, the worse the damage. Thus, if you find yourself sucking on hard candies for prolonged periods of time, you’re just washing your teeth with sugar. Because hard candies dissolve so slowly, you’ll saturate your teeth with sugar for minutes. This gives the bacteria produced by sugar more time to create harmful acids.
Sour candies are even worse! They’re given their signature tartness with citric acid which can seriously break down your enamel. Gummy candy isn’t much better – the sticky stuff can get stuck in between your teeth, so flossing is a must. Brush your teeth frequently, and always drink water when you’re enjoying something sweet.
It’s just water, right? And water is good for you!
Not quite. Ice is very brittle, and chewing on hard surfaces can leave your teeth vulnerable to enamel damage. You wouldn’t chew on rocks, so don’t chew on ice!
Chronic ice chewing is associated with anemia iron deficiency. Your body needs iron to produce hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that helps carry oxygen without the body. Anemia is very common: 20 percent of women, 50 percent of pregnant women, and 3 percent of men suffer from anemia.
If you’re looking for an alternative, let pieces of ice melt on your tongue like hard candy, or chew on pieces of carrot or apple if you’re looking for the crunch.
A squeeze of lemon or lime can make a glass of water tasty, it can also wreak some serious damage on our teeth. Acidic foods wear down enamel, and citric acid is present in many foods. When enamel wears down, our teeth are more susceptible to decay. Plus, it can seriously irritate open wounds in our mouths.
Dental erosion is a serious side effect of citrus consumption. Areas with softened enamel can discolor over time, become sensitive to temperature, and be prone to decay.
The most acidic fruits include lemons, limes, cranberry juice, blue plums, grapes, pomegranates, grapefruits, blueberries , pineapples, apples, peaches, mangoes, and oranges. If you’d like to maintain levels of Vitamin C without the harmful effects, reach for a banana or cantaloupe, which have similar levels of Vitamin C but no citric acid.
Keep in mind that drinks made with these fruits include the same levels of citric acid. Try to drink juices or wine with these fruits with a straw. Another fun tip: Eat cheese after eating acidic fruit! It will help balance the pH of your mouth.
In its natural form, coffee is perfectly healthy. But as soon as you start to add sugary add-ons, you’re increasing the risk of plaque build up. Coffee can also dry out your mouth and stain your teeth, so be sure to drink water while you drink coffee. Avoid sugar additives when you can – black coffee and tea are tasty when you get used to them!
We tend to think of dried fruit as fundamentally healthy, but it’s no friend to our teeth. Sticky foods stay on our teeth longer and cause bacteria to build up. Try to eat sticky foods alongside a regular meal so your saliva will help wash the substances away. And always brush after eating something that’s going to get stuck in between your teeth!
Potato chips are delicious, but they’re filled with starch, which gets trapped in your teeth. The carbohydrates in chips turn to sugars while you eat, which, as we know, can cause some trouble for your teeth, including the risk of decay. Make sure you’re brushing your teeth often to avoid buildup.
Most of us have heard about this one. Every sip of sugary soda we take starts a 20 minute interaction that harms your teeth the longer you let it sit there. Plaque bacteria uses sugar to produce bacteria that breaks down your enamel. Also keep in mind that carbonated beverages are acidic, and caffeinated beverages can dry out your mouth.
All sugary drinks like juice can cause plaque buildup and wear down enamel, but they stop there. Soda can actually wear down to your dentin and cause serious decay or even infection.
The best way to avoid decay is to just stop drinking soda. But if you’re really craving it, try to drink it fast so the sugar won’t sit in your mouth as long. And keep in mind: Pepsi and Coca-Cola are the most acidic sodas on the market.
Most of us don’t think about the fact that alcohol dehydrates us and gives us dry mouth. The reduced saliva flow over time can lead to eventual decay and damage. Chronic dry mouth can also increase your chances of oral cancer.
The sugar in many alcohols will also stick to your teeth. Try to alternate alcohol with water, or chew sugar-free gum to increase the production of saliva in your mouth. Keep in mind heavily colored drinks like red wine can stain your teeth.
Although they’re intended to give athletes a healthy dose of energy, sugar is the top ingredient in nearly every sports beverage. They can help in some young athletes, but they’re generally unnecessary for most people. Similar to soda, the sugar in sports drinks will wear down your enamel and cause decay.
At Paradigm Dental, we’re committed to keeping your teeth as healthy as possible. If you’re concerned your oral habits could be causing damage, come in for a cleaning and checkup!