When you think of a healthy diet, you probably think of one low in calories and fats that will keep you from gaining weight. However, you also need to consider whether your diet is healthy for your teeth. There are many foods and drinks in your diet that can sneakily but severely damage your teeth and gums. It’s important to educate yourself about foods that can damage your teeth so you can take care to avoid them. Which foods do you need to avoid? In no particular order, here are the 5 worst foods for your teeth.
The sticky food category tends to encompass some of the obvious candidates for worst foods for your teeth, like fruit snacks and chewy candies. However, even seemingly healthy sticky foods like dried fruit can wreak havoc on your teeth. As their name suggests, sticky foods get stuck to the teeth and stay on the teeth’s surface longer. Bacteria feeds on this stuck-on food, and this can cause tooth decay, which could require composite fillings or root canals in severe cases
Sticky sour candies pose a double threat, since the sour component adds more enamel-eroding acids to the equation.
To satisfy your craving for sweets, opt for chocolate instead. You can chew it quickly, and it washes off of teeth much more easily. If you do eat any sticky foods, be sure to brush and floss thoroughly to remove anything clinging to your teeth.
Starches may seem like an unlikely candidate for the worst foods for your teeth, but it’s what happens when you chew them that makes them so harmful. When chewed, starches break down into sugars, which form a gummy paste. This paste can stick to teeth and get into the crevices between teeth. Like sticky foods, this gummy paste provides food for the bacteria that causes tooth decay.
Avoid starches made from white flour like white bread, potato chips, and pretzels. If you want to eat carbohydrates, look for more complex carbs like whole grain breads that contain less added sugar and don’t break down as easily.
After eating starches or refined carbohydrates, brush your teeth as soon as possible to help prevent damage from any lingering food that may be stuck in your teeth.
Sugary drinks are one of the most common causes of tooth decay. When you drink a sugary drink, the sugar sticks to your teeth. Bacteria then feeds on this sugar, creating acid. This acid then begins to wear away your enamel. When the enamel on your teeth wears down, it makes your teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay. Teeth with eroded enamel are also more sensitive to extreme temperatures and sweet foods.
Sodas in particular can be very dangerous for your teeth. Carbonated sodas get their bubbles from carbonic acid, which means that even without sugar, sodas are very acidic drinks. The combination of high sugar and high acidity found in most sodas is a recipe for disaster as far as your teeth are concerned.
Whenever you can, choose water over sugary drinks. If you choose to indulge in a sugary drink, rinsing your mouth with water afterward can help get rid of any excess sugars stuck to teeth.
You should actually avoid brushing your teeth immediately after drinking soda, since the acidity can make enamel soft for up to an hour after drinking. Instead, rinse your mouth with water and wait an hour before brushing to avoid damaging your enamel.
Even though fruits like lemons and oranges are considered good for you, they’re actually some of the worst foods for your teeth. Citrus fruits contain high levels of acid, which can erode enamel like the acids found in soda.
Lemons, limes, and grapefruits are particularly acidic fruits. Oranges still contain a significant amount of acid, but is the least acidic citrus fruit. If you still want to get the benefit of vitamin C from your fruit without worrying about acid erosion, cantaloupe, watermelon, bananas are all low-acid fruits with high levels of vitamin C.
There are ways to enjoy citrus fruits in ways that are better for your teeth. If you’re drinking something with citrus juice in it, use a straw so it doesn’t come into direct contact with your teeth. You can also rinse with water after eating citrus fruit to help dilute the acid, or eat cheese, whose high pH levels will help neutralize the acidity.
Never suck on lemons or put these fruits directly against your teeth, since the acid exposure will surely wear down your enamel.
Even on its own, coffee will create acids in your mouth that can damage your teeth. This is exacerbated if you add sugar to your coffee, creating the same problems that all sugary drinks make for your teeth. With the rise in popularity of sugary, milkshake-style coffee drinks among children and young adults, the negative effects of drinking coffee on teeth has become an increasingly serious problem — even in children who have protective dental sealants.
Coffee is also a major contributor to teeth staining. Coffee is high in tannins, which are compounds that break down in water. Tannins cause color compounds to more readily stick to your teeth, which can result in discolored or yellowing teeth. Adding creamer or sugar to your coffee actually speeds up this discoloration process since the sugars encourage the growth of bacteria.
If you just can’t bear to give up coffee, there are steps you can take to mitigate the damage. Brushing your teeth right after drinking coffee can help remove excess acids and tannins. You can also drink coffee through a straw so that the liquid does not make direct contact with your teeth. Skipping the added sugar and creamer can also reduce potential damage.
Schedule Your Appointment Today
There are a lot of tooth-damaging foods hiding in your diet. With regular dental check-ups, your child’s dentist can treat any food-related damage while taking steps to prevent any further damage. Make an appointment at Children’s Dentistry today, and talk to your child’s dentist about a teeth-healthy diet.