“You are what you eat.” As it turns out, that adage may be especially true when it comes to your teeth. The front lines of defense when it comes to acids, colors, dyes, and bacteria in our food, our teeth work especially hard during mealtime. Because of this, it makes sense that certain foods would be good for your teeth, while others would put them at risk of decay, discoloration, and damage.
Here’s what you need to know about the top foods that are bad for your teeth, and a few you can sub out instead.
10 Foods That Are Terrible for Your Teeth
Did you know that cavities are the single most common chronic disease in people ages 6-19 years old? Don’t worry, though. You can prevent or decrease cavities by taking good care of your teeth, brushing often, and limiting or avoiding these ten foods and drinks:
Most people know that pop isn’t great for our teeth. What lots of us don’t know, however, is exactly how damaging it can be. According to one recent study, drinking large quantities of soda may be as detrimental to human teeth as using crack cocaine or methamphetamine.
Let that sink in for a moment.
So, why are sodas so damaging? The answer is acid. Carbonated sodas create a chemical reaction in your mouth, which allows the plaque on your teeth to create more acid. The acid then goes to work on your dental enamel, leading to rapid decay and discoloration. Finally, sodas can stain teeth and cause dry mouth – both of which wreak dental health havoc.
2. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is a healthy snack, right? Right! Unfortunately, it does a number on your teeth. Dried fruits like apricots and raisins, for example, have a sticky residue which can coat your teeth and get stuck in the gaps between the tooth and the gum.
Over time, the sugars in the coating interact with the plaque in your mouth, creating an ideal environment for decay. If you’re going to snack on dried fruit, be sure to brush and floss your teeth afterward.
3. Potato Chips
Potato chips are delicious, but they’re a prime source of starch. When you crunch on this salty snack, the starch transforms to sugar in your mouth. When that sugar becomes trapped between your teeth, it feeds bacteria and plaque and promotes acid production and decay. If you can’t avoid potato chips altogether, brush and floss as soon as you’ve finished your snack
4. Citrus Fruits
Oranges, lemons, limes, oh my! Citrus fruits pack a welcome punch, but their acid content is tough on teeth, eating away at enamel and weakening a tooth’s natural defenses. If you want to take advantage of the health benefits of citrus without harming your chompers, keep your citrus intake moderate and swish your mouth with water after you’re done eating.
Candy is a bit like soda when it comes to our teeth. Most people know it’s not health food. As it turns out, though, some candies are worse than others when it comes to our teeth.
Sour and hard candidates, for example, stick to teeth and dissolve slowly in the mouth, respectively. This jacks up acid content and creates a residue that’s tough to brush away. Swap these sweet treats for a square of dark chocolate, instead. Chocolate won’t coat teeth and is easier to brush away.
Even nice, healthy, homemade wheat bread contains starch, and when you eat starch, your mouth breaks it down into sugar. This sugar becomes a sticky, gummy paste that lodges into the crevices of teeth and promotee decay.
While you can cut down on this effect by opting for more wholesome, whole-wheat varieties, it’s smart to brush your teeth after enjoying that lunchtime sandwich.
Alcohol does something interesting to the mouth: it cuts saliva production and creates dry mouth. Unfortunately, saliva keeps teeth healthy, and dry mouths are more susceptible to damage, decay, and dental staining. Additionally, saliva helps reduce the likelihood of oral infections and keep teeth healthy. With this in mind, keep alcohol intake to a minimum and drink plenty of water.
Ice seems harmless, but it can break and fracture teeth if you decide to chew it. Even if ice doesn’t break teeth, it can crack enamel and loosen crowns, leading to expensive dental bills and more. Because of this, it’s critical to avoid chewing ice and other hard objects.
9. Fruit Juice
Fruit juice is billed as a healthy snack, but it contains lots of natural sugars. In fact, some fruit juice contains the same amount of sugar as drinks like Coke or Pepsi. With this in mind, keep your fruit juice consumption minimal, and rinse your mouth with water afterward.
10. Fried Food
Fried food is dense in calories, but it also contains chemical compounds like acrylamide, oxysterols, acrolein, heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and more. These compounds boost your risk of cancer and heart disease, while also lodging in your teeth and creating a perfect environment for decay. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to limit your consumption of fried food, and always to brush your teeth after you enjoy a cheat meal.
Keeping Your Mouth Healthy
Your mouth works hard when it comes to mealtime. In addition to breaking down food, making it easier to process nutrients, and creating an enjoyable experience, your mouth also takes the brunt of the acids, bacteria, and textures contained in our foods.
This year, do your mouth a solid by being mindful of what you’re putting on your plate. Swapping out food that is tough on your teeth for foods that are easier to chew and eat will go a long way toward protecting your dental health and reducing emergency dental visits.
Are you overdue for your yearly cleaning or exam? Contact our offices today to book your first appointment with our team of friendly, knowledgeable dentists.