- On December 14, 2017
- 0 Comments
- acidic foods, bad food for teeth, cavities, gum disease, healthy mouths, oral bacteria, Oral health, sugar, unhealthy food, worst drinks for teeth, worst foods for teeth
Your Teeth Are What You Eat
During the holiday season, we tend to be surrounded by our favorite people, our favorite holiday activities and of course, our favorite foods, beverages and desserts. This generation is becoming more health conscious about what we put in our bodies, and for good reason! But what exactly are those reasons?
Well, it seems the saying, “You are what you eat!” rings truer and truer, and when it comes to dental health, it’s even more important than usual. We know it’s impossible to eat 100% clean and eliminate all of the “harmful” foods and drinks from our diet, but it is important to know what to pay attention to and how to minimize the potential harm. We’ll give you the basics on types of potentially harmful foods and drinks and then give you a list of the worst of the worst!
- Sugar and Acid
- Plaque is the big culprit when it comes to tooth decay and enamel erosion. Plaque feeds on sugar and acids.
- Highly Acidic Foods
- Acidic foods can be very harmful to teeth because the acids can erode your teeth enamel, causing cavities and decay. Weak enamel can cause a variety of problems including sensitivity, discoloration and decay.
- Food and drinks high in acid are lemons, pickles, tomatoes, alcohol and coffee.
- Look for foods that have low levels of acids such as bananas, avocados, broccoli, lean meats, whole grains, eggs, cheese nuts and vegetables.
- Sugar Isn’t Always Sweet
- The bad bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars to create acids. Cavities are an infection caused by acids. Sugars in your mouth are the first step in the formation of cavities.
- Minimizing sugar intake as much as possible, brushing after meals, and drinking plenty of water can help protect your teeth from developing cavities.
- Foods high in sugar: sugar (duh), soft drinks, candies, dried fruit, desserts, jams, cereal.
- Sticky/Chewy Foods
- Foods that stick to and stay attached to and between your teeth for a long time, turn into an energy supply for bacteria. The presence of the sticky food debris allows bacteria to produce much more acid than normal.
- Brush and floss your teeth as soon as possible after consuming these foods so they won’t linger in your mouth for hours.
- Starchy Foods / Refined Carbohydrates
- Refined carbohydrates and starches begin turning into sugars almost immediately in your mouth by the pre-digestive process through enzymes in saliva.
- Avoid refined carbohydrates and starchy foods such as white bread, potato chips, and pasta.
- Food and Drinks That Dry Out Your Mouth
- Saliva is your body’s natural defense against oral health issues. Saliva washes away plaque and excess food and brings back key minerals to your teeth.
- Consuming foods and drinks that dry out your mouth cause the saliva level to get low and lose its ability to do its job properly.
- Avoid alcohol, some medicines, coffee and energy drinks.
- Hard Foods and Candies
- Enamel is the hardest part of your body. However, even this strong substance can’t endure chewing on hard foods. If a food is too hard, it is not supposed to be chewed, otherwise you are at risk of damaging enamel or even chipping teeth.
- Don’t chew on: ice, hard candies, and unpopped popcorn.
The Worst Drinks for Your Teeth and Gums
- Soda (<- click for more)
- Sodas are highly acidic, even diet or sugar free sodas contain citric and phosphoric acid! Not to mention the sugar that is jam packed in the regular sodas – talk about a feast for the bad bacteria in your mouth!
- If you do consume soft drinks, try to drink alongside a cup of water.
- Sports Drinks
- Sugar, acids.. They might contain electrolytes, but check the label to make sure your drink of choice is low in sugar.
- Coconut water is a great natural alternative to get those needed electrolytes!
- We need to know that alcohol causes dehydration and dry mouth. As mentioned earlier, this reduces saliva flow, which can cause serious problems over time such as tooth decay and gum disease. Let’s make a compromise: drink your H2O at your happy hour and make sure to brush your teeth after!
- Acid erosion, discoloration, dry mouth… Oh my! Red wines stain and white wines are more acidic. Make sure to drink water during and after your glass of vino, no whining allowed!
- Coffee not only dries out your mouth, it also is the most staining of all food and drink. Add sugar to your coffee? Uh oh!
- Make sure to drink plenty of water after your daily cup of joe, avoid adding sugar, and brush afterwards!
The Worst Foods for Your Teeth
- Sticky/Chewy Candy
- Their high sugar content combined with their sticky nature makes these treats a nightmare for your teeth and oral bacteria’s favorite snack.
- Hard Candy
- Let’s avoid hard candies altogether. The increased risk of chipping a tooth, plus the debris of sticky hard candies leftover causes enough risk of damaging enamel. However, letting hard candies melt in your mouth can be even more harmful due to long saturation time. The more time in your mouth, the more time the bad bacteria has to produce lots of harmful acids. Adding more fuel to the flame, most hard candies are flavored with citric acid, which, you guessed it, adds more acid to your mouth.
- Chew sugarless gum that carries the ADA seal as a better alternative.
- Sour Candy
- Sour candies contain lots of different kinds of acids than other varieties of candies. What’s worse, is that brushing immediately after consuming these highly acidic foods, could actually damage your enamel further. Wait at least 20 minutes after consuming highly acidic foods to avoid enamel damage.
- Dried Fruits
- Dried fruits can be a sticky snack, plus many are loaded with added sugar. These sticky, sugary food tends to stay on the teeth longer than others.
- Check your labels for no sugar added as a better alternative, and make sure to rinse with water and brush and floss after consuming.
- Citrus Fruits
- Of course, these fruits have good qualities, such as Vitamin C. However, frequent exposures to acidic foods can erode enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay over time.
- So, if you enjoy squeezing lemons in your water and sipping on it throughout the day, you might need to reconsider as a prolonged acid exposure is really bad for your teeth. It’s better to drink or eat your lemons in one sitting than and then drink plenty of water to wash out the acid.
- Potato Chips
- Once chewed, the starchy, mushy texture gets stuck between the teeth and can get trapped for a long time.
- If possible, rinse with water, brush and floss to remove the trapped debris.
- Popcorn kernels can get trapped between your teeth and sometimes, if they get trapped deep enough, need to be removed by a dentist!
- Unpopped popcorn can damage your enamel or chip off a tooth!
- Pickles, Vinegar and Tomatoes
- You guessed it: acid is the culprait here. Studies have shown an increased risk of enamel erosion for people who frequently consume vinegar-containing foods such as salad dressings and pickles.
- Eating tomatoes or pickles with a meal, rather than on their own, minimizes the danger, and of course, drink water after consuming.
Food is meant to make you healthy and happy.
So, don’t stress too much on what you eat, as long as you follow a few basic principles which will help your teeth and gums stay healthy. It’s better to avoid substances that have an extremely negative effect on your overall health (like soda), but even if you can’t eat 100% clean, the following principles will help your teeth and gums stay healthier.
- Your mouth needs a rest, so don’t graze all day with snacking. Leave sufficient time for your mouth to recover and for saliva to naturally replenish minerals to your teeth. Try to keep your food intake to 3-5 meals a day and let your mouth rest in between.
- To minimize the danger of some foods and drinks on the list, try to consume them as part of a meal, rather than on their own.
- Brushing after a meal is, of course, always a great option. Just remember to wait 20 minutes if you’ve consumed highly acidic foods that have weakened your enamel.
- If possible, always rinse your mouth with water after a meal and drink lots of water throughout the day as well.
- Use a straw when drinking highly acidic beverages to minimize their contact with your teeth.
Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that some of the foods and drinks listed might have some overall health benefits as well. However, in this post, we are mostly concerned with the effect they have on your dental health. Our goal for this blog post is for you to be more aware of the potential negative effect they have on your mouth’s health and know how to minimize the danger when you happen to consume them.