Some food choices can contribute to the wear and tear of your pearly whites. What makes a food “bad” is that bacteria living in the mouth burn sugars in order to thrive. The byproduct of this burning is acid, which dissolves tooth enamel and causes cavities.
Foods that are both sticky and sugary are bad for the teeth. That’s because when foods are sticky, they tend to “stick” around and stay on the teeth longer, which gives a greater chance for bacteria to run amok and do all the naughty things they do.
Acidic foods can also be a poor choice, as they could potentially damage the tooth enamel. Food and drinks that are both acidic and sugary (like soda pop), double the trouble for teeth.
Some foods listed below aren’t necessarily bad for health such as dried fruits, but the experts encourage teeth brushing, flossing and mouth rinsing after consumption to help prevent cavities.
Those buttered puffy bits get stuck between your teeth and promote bacteria growth. Beware of the crunchy kernels that can lead to cracked teeth and the sharp hulls that can lead to cut gums. Ouch!
Syrupy beverages such as sodas and sports drinks are especially bad for teeth when sipping for extended periods of time. Diet sodas should also be avoided. Just because they lack sugar, doesn’t mean they lack acidity.
These treats linger in the mouth for a long time as you wait for them to dissolve and deliver their sugary goodness. It could take up to 10 minutes for some hard candies to dissolve and there are no health benefits associated with hard candy. Beware of potential dental emergencies like cracked teeth and cuts on the inside of the mouth.
Beverages with alcohol
Alcohol increases dry mouth and causes natural saliva production to decrease. Saliva helps wash away food particles and provides a slime layer to help protect your teeth against acid. Alcohol also irritates all the soft tissue in the mouth.
Please don’t suck on lemons. It’s harmful to bathe teeth in acid! Foods high in acid, such as limes, lemons and tomatoes, can promote tooth decay when eaten alone. These foods have nutritional value when prepared with a meal, so enjoy them but remember to rinse your mouth with water after eating them to help buffer the acid.
Starchy foods like potato chips, corn chips, and white bread get trapped between teeth and feed bacteria that causes plaque.
Although dried fruits may be more nutritious than processed fruit snacks, they are still sticky and high in sugar. Definitely brush and floss after eating them.
Peanut butter is sticky and often made with sugar. Try natural peanut butters with no added sugars to lessen the problem. Along with peanut butter, jam is loaded with sugar. Even the all-fruit brands contain natural sugars and encourage plaque and bacteria if not rinsed straight away.
Coffee and tea
Coffee and tea not only tint your smile a lovely shade of brown, but if they are sweetened they also make the teeth sticky, which means more food particles can hitch a ride. If you do partake, try to avoid the syrups and add-ons and drink plenty of good old-fashioned water.
Ice, ice baby
Ice is for chilling, not chewing. Although it is made of water and doesn’t contain sugar, chewing on hard substances can leave your teeth vulnerable to a dental emergency such as a cracked tooth.
Eat well. Live well and visit your dentist for regular check-ups.