Do you remember being told that junk food and sugary soft drinks would rot your teeth when you were a kid? Well, that wasn’t a well-constructed lie that parents told their children to keep them from bouncing up the walls from a sugar rush.
Many different foods and beverages can harm your teeth and gums. Yes, almost all foods can affect your oral health in some way, but some are worse than others. Too many sugar and acidic products can break down your enamel and expose your teeth to harmful bacteria. A healthy change in your diet can positively affect your overall well-being and work wonders for your teeth.
But how do you know which foods are the worst for teeth?
Here’s our list:
Sugary beverages, like soft drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks, are some of the leading causes of tooth decay and cavities. According to Healthline, carbonated soft drinks can enable plaque to produce more acids that attack your tooth enamel. So, whenever you’re drinking soda or a sports drink, you’re essentially coating your teeth with acids. Due to the copious amounts of sugar in sugary drinks, your mouth dries out faster which produces less saliva. Furthermore, dark coloured sodas can stain your teeth.
A Better Alternative
The best way to avoid sugary drinks is to drink lots of water. However, sometimes people want a little more pizzazz when it comes to their beverages. Try infusing your water with healthy fruits and vegetables. Lemon, cucumber, orange, or lime water have all become popular go-to choices. Sparkling water is another way to replace soft drinks with something better for your oral health.
Almost everyone has a sweet tooth, but sometimes, that sweet tooth can get a cavity. Consuming too much candy and other sugary treats, like cookies or cake, can increase the risk of tooth decay and cavities. Because candy is rich in sugar, it coats your tooth enamel. That’s why it’s paramount that you brush and floss daily. When sugar coats your teeth, the area becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, which feed on it, creating weakening acids that break down your teeth. The result? Gum disease and tooth decay.
The worst candy for your teeth includes:
- Hard candies
- Sour candies
These sweets are bad because they can get stuck on and/or between your teeth. There are some instances where candy may stick to your teeth for days, even if you brush regularly.
If you simply cannot resist a sweet treat, try having them after meals, drink lots of water, and brush your teeth.
Some healthy sweet tooth alternatives include:
- Greek yogurt
- Chia pudding
While citrus fruits are part of a healthy diet, you should be careful about how much you’re consuming. Citrus fruits, like oranges or lemons, can wear down the enamel on your teeth, causing tooth sensitivity and decay.
Try eating or drinking citrus fruits and drinks in moderation to avoid the risk of decay. The best time to have them is with meals. You shouldn’t brush your teeth immediately after consuming citrus fruit, as the acids can make your teeth more vulnerable to abrasions from the toothbrush bristles. Wait at least half an hour, rinse your mouth with water, and proceed with brushing.
Like sugary foods, meals that contain refined carbohydrates are notorious for causing tooth decay. Starchy foods such as bread, pasta, potatoes, or rice can stick to your teeth and encourage the spread of bacteria, which is ultimately bad for your teeth and gums. Why? Because your saliva breaks down starches and turns them into sugars. When starch encounters plaque, acids will begin to attack your enamel and cause decay.
When eating starchy foods, it’s best to drink water to help break down the starches before they coat your teeth and gums. The water will also keep you hydrated and reduce the risk of dry mouth, which can also prevent tooth decay.
A Starch-Free Diet
One of the best ways to avoid starchy foods is to practice a starch-free diet, getting your carbohydrates from specific vegetables and proteins, like:
- Green beans
- Red bell peppers
Drinking alcohol isn’t the healthiest of habits and it can negatively impact your oral health; drinking alcoholic beverages can dry out your mouth. When there’s a lack of saliva in your mouth, your teeth doesn’t have a natural defence against erosive acids and bacteria.
Red and white wine contain acids that soften your enamel and make your teeth more vulnerable to bacteria. Red wine also contains tannins, an astringent compound that can dry your mouth out and stain your teeth.
As a rule, you should consume water in moderation when drinking alcohol. You can also brush your teeth before a night of drinking to prevent plaque build up on your teeth, so tannins have nothing to stick to.
Ice is essentially frozen water, so chewing on it should be safe, right? In actuality, chewing on ice cubes can damage your enamel and increase the risk of a dental emergency, like cracked, chipped, or broken teeth.
Ice is a welcome addition to your drink, but it’s one of the last things you should be chewing on. If you find yourself unable to resist the urge to chew on ice cubes, try opting for chilled beverages instead.
Vinegar, like soft drinks and citrus fruits, contains highly acidic properties, which can cause tooth decay and erosion. The acids in vinegar can break down the protective layers on your teeth and expose them to wear and tear, staining, and decay.
To avoid the erosive effects of vinegar, try using it in moderation when cooking. Additionally, rice vinegar or rice wine vinegar is much less acidic than white or red wine vinegar, and can be an effective alternative when used sparingly in meals.
Dried fruits are often advertised as being a healthy snack option but many dried fruits like prunes, raisins, or figs are sticky. When dry fruit gets stuck to your teeth, it can leave traces of sugar.
If you like to eat dried fruits, rinse your mouth with water once finished, followed by brushing your teeth and flossing. In most cases, you’re better off eating fresh apricots, plums, or grapes as they’re less concentrated with sugar.
Potato chips might satisfy cravings and provide that extra crunch you’re searching for, but the starch isn’t good for your teeth; it eventually breaks down into sugars that get stuck onto your teeth. The sugars then feed the bacteria in your plaque build-up, which can lead to many dental issues.
The more chips you eat, the more acid production lingers in your mouth. Consider flossing and brushing after you snack on potato chips to reduce the build-up.
Some healthier alternatives to potato chips include:
- Kale chips
- Cauliflower crackers
- Mixed nuts
- Vegetable slices
Be mindful of foods and beverages that produce harmful acids and bacteria. This way, you can ensure you maintain healthy teeth and gums. Our expert staff can provide information on oral health, and we offer an array of beneficial services. Book an appointment with the reliable dentists at Affinity Dental today.v