When it comes to your oral health, there are good foods, and there are bad foods. We already took a look at some of the best foods out there for your teeth in our blog entitled, The Best Foods for Your Teeth. Today, we’re taking a look at the flipside of the coin. As your Stapleton source for dentistry service, we’re glad to be your local authority for dentist’s advice. Let’s take a look at the worst foods (and drinks) you can consume – at least for the health of your teeth:
Sugary Foods & Drinks
Sugar just isn’t good for the body, teeth included. Sugar, especially processed sugar, can damage teeth. Sugar is sticky, and it clings to the surface of your teeth. If you’ve ever felt that odd feeling of “sweaters on your teeth,” it’s likely that your chompers are caked with sugar or carbs (which break down and turn into sugar). The problem with sugar is two-fold: One, sugary foods and drinks are often acidic. So that sugar that’s clinging to your teeth is also weakening your enamel (that protective coating that keeps teeth strong). Two, sugar feeds bacteria. Bacteria thrive on sugar that’s coating your teeth and caught between gaps in your teeth. And that bacteria produces plaque (a film of grime that damages teeth). Be cautious, and mitigate consumption of these sugary foods and drinks (Take note, some sugary foods, like fruit, are healthy for the rest of your body. So do your best to monitor your diet, and when you do happen to eat an orange, don’t sweat. Just wash it down with a glass of water or milk to help your teeth out.):
- Fruit Juices
- Energy/Sports Drinks
- Citrus Fruit
- Canned Fruit (often contains artificial and natural sugars)
Alcohol dries out your mouth, and it can leave you with a mouthful of bacteria. While you may be thinking, “Well, alcohol kills bacteria,” consider this: Alcohol dehydrates the body. That means that you’ll produce less saliva, and saliva is a first defence against bacteria. Now, alcohol will kill some bacteria in your mouth (after all, plenty of mouthwash formulae rely on alcohol to kill bacteria), but drinking a glass of wine won’t kill all the bacteria in your mouth, and we wouldn’t recommend swishing an alcoholic beverage to “clean” your teeth. Most alcoholic drinks are sugary and acidic as well as dehydrating. That gives alcoholic beverages three strikes in the “Not Good For Teeth” column. Again, if you’re drinking an adult beverage, wash it down with a glass of water to keep your teeth happy. Alcoholic beverages include hard liquors, beer, wine, and mixed drinks.
Coffee is rather acidic, and it can stain your teeth. The acid in coffee weakens enamel, and it can leave the lower layers of your teeth exposed to further damage. If you’re in the habit of drinking water every day, be sure to chase a cup of joe with a cup of water. And remember, you don’t want to brush your teeth immediately after drinking coffee; your enamel takes a bit of time to get back to full strength. Give your chompers 20 minutes between coffee and brushing.
Foods With Refined Carbs
All carbs break down into sugars, but refined carbs do so faster, and they can cling to teeth longer. Plus, carbs have a knack for getting stuck between your teeth. So if you’re a fan of crackers, white bread, and the like, be sure to swish some water around in your mouth after having a snack. Also, floss away food debris to ensure that carbs don’t turn into sugar and then into plaque.
Popcorn itself isn’t the worst for your teeth. However, a kernel that lodged between your teeth can eventually attract bacteria and be a harbor for plaque growth. In addition, if you happen to chomp down on an unpopped kernel, you can cause serious damage to your teeth. Unpopped kernels have been known to chip teeth and cause cavities. Stay away from caramel corn too, since it’s a bad combination of kernels and sugar.
If you have the bad habit of chewing on ice, it’s time to kick the habit. A crystal of ice can sink straight through enamel, and that can leave your teeth completely exposed to further damage. Sucking on ice is OK, chewing it is a definite no-no.
Vinegar is acidic, and like coffee and citrus fruits, it can weaken your enamel. If you’re a fan of vinegar dressings, it’s best to moderate the amount you use. Fortunately, consuming a salad with your vinegar balances out some of that acidity, and teeth thrive on green leafy foods!
A Bit About Staining
Now, staining doesn’t always harm your teeth, but some find stains unattractive. Keep an eye out for food and drinks like wine, coffee, curry, berries, beets, and the like. Some of these foods are healthy to consume, but they’ll leave you with yellow and brown stains. Again, just give your teeth a quick rinse with a gulp of water to keep stains at bay.
How to Mitigate Dental Damage
As we mentioned, you can support your dental health by giving your mouth a quick rinse with water if you’re consuming any of the aforementioned things. In addition, use the following tips to keep dental damage down:
- Drink acidic drinks with a straw. It’s not always the most convenient option, but it’ll keep acidic contact with your teeth to a minimum.
- Don’t snack. Snacking constantly means that your teeth don’t have time to recuperate between meals. Give your mouth a rinse and a rest between meals.
- Drink lots of water! Saliva is made mostly of water, and high levels of saliva mean high tooth health.
- Combine foods. Consume foods that are good at the same time as foods that are damaging for your teeth to mitigate the negative effects.