Certain types of foods and beverages can be detrimental to your teeth and gums. A few of the substances on the list may surprise you. For example, diet sodas are lower in sugar compared to regular colas, so they must be better for you, right? Not always. Diet sodas contain citric and phosphoric acid that wear away teeth enamel. With continued exposure to acidic substances, enamel erosion can cause tooth decay.
It is essential to know the main culprits in compromising oral health. Dental issues such as plaque, cavities, gingivitis and gum disease can have severe ramifications to overall health. Avoiding or limiting certain foods can improve dental health. Read on to find out how to improve your teeth’s health by making good dietary choices.
The bacteria responsible for causing tooth decay and gum disease is fed and multiplied by sugar. Hard candies, cough drops and lollipops are all common causes of plaque and tooth breakages. Plaque is one example of a bacteria that clings to teeth and causes enamel erosion. When the plaque and sugar combine, they release an acid that eats away at the surface of the teeth. With repeated exposure to this acid, tooth decay occurs.
Yes, it may seem odd, but ice is a big problem for teeth, especially if you like to crunch on it. Ice can cause tooth splitting, cracking and breakage. Repeated exposure to chewing hard or crunchy substances can also damage enamel. Opt for the liquid form and drink water instead of crunching it.
Citrus is especially hard on tooth enamel. The acid in citrus promotes enamel erosion and tooth decay. The high citrus content in foods such as lemons, limes and grapefruits slowly weaken the hard surface of the tooth, increasing one’s susceptibility to cavity and decay. Also, be aware of fruit juices as they can be high in citric acids. Water flavored with citrus will also erode the enamel on your teeth, so always rinse citrus down with plain H2O.
4. Coffee and Tea
Caffeinated teas and coffees dehydrate the mouth and stain your teeth. Dehydrating beverages inhibit the body’s natural ability to moisten and cleanse the mouth. Repeated episodes of dry mouth can increase the risk of decay and gum disease. Drinking coffee and tea with sugar adds risk for weakened enamel and tooth decay. Always brush or drink plain water after drinking sugary or caffeinated beverages.
5. Sticky Foods
Foods that are chewy and tend to stick to your teeth, are not good for the tooth’s enamel. The sticky substances adhere themselves to the enamel causing greater erosion and risk of decay. Sticky foods such as fruit leathers, caramels, dried fruits and trail mix can be harmful. These substances stick in between teeth as well, and when combined with the sugars, the results are bad news. Always brush and floss after such treats and drink plenty of plain water.
6. Crunchy Foods
Hard, crunchy foods and candies can cause excessive erosion and weaken enamel. Even healthy, crunchy foods such as carrots and apples can be hard on pearly whites. Foods that require you to break through or crunch such as potato chips can cause tooth breakage and decay. Foods that are crunchy and full of starch, such as chips, are double trouble for teeth. Starch is a form of sugar that coats the teeth with a sticky, bacteria-loving substance. This substance and other bacteria cause plaque and ultimately tooth decay.
7. Sugary Sodas
Sodas, even diet sodas, are bad for teeth. The high sugar content and high levels of acids pack a punch to oral health. Although diet sodas do not contain the same sugar levels as regular sodas, they have the same citric and phosphoric acids that wear away enamel. The high sugar content of sodas breaks down tooth surfaces. The acids assist in the process, further weakening and eroding a tooth’s defenses. If the drink is caffeinated and carbonated, this is an additional risk for teeth and gum health. Carbonated beverages contain acids responsible for weakening enamel, and caffeine dries out the mouth, preventing saliva’s ability to flush and rinse teeth naturally.
8. White Bread
White bread turns into a gummy starch in the mouth that coats every surface of the mouth in a sticky film that attracts bacteria and other germs. Starches can easily seep in between the teeth as well, so it is essential to floss after eating white bread to avoid cavity formation and decay. When possible, choose wheat bread as a healthy alternative to soft, white bread.
Alcohol is highly dehydrating, leading to less saliva for rinsing and cleaning the mouth. Chronic dry mouth can cause tooth decay and other problems such as gum disease. Chronic alcohol intake also increases one’s risk of developing oral cancers. Drink plenty of water when consuming alcohol to prevent dehydration.
10. Sports Drinks
Many people assume that sports drinks are a healthy alternative to water, but many contain high amounts of sugar. Many sports drinks also list sugar as the first ingredient, which signifies that sugar is the primary ingredient in the beverage. Substitute with water when possible or try a low-sugar option.
The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and drinking plenty of water for optimal oral hygiene. Choose low-sugar, low-acidic foods and beverages when possible. Chew sugar-free gum when brushing and flossing is not an option. Visit the dentist regularly for checkups and to maintain healthy teeth and gums.