The 10 Worst Foods for Teeth
Our teeth and gums are microcosms for our overall health. Eating poorly is reflected in our dental health because the sugars and starches from our food feed not only our bodies, but the bacteria in our mouths. As starches and sugars from the foods we eat mix with the sticky bacterial film known as plaque, it forms acids that damage our teeth causing tooth decay and wearing down our enamel.
For this reason, it is important that we think carefully about the foods and drinks we put into our mouths. Below is a list of 10 of the biggest offenders when it comes to damaging our teeth.
SODA (AKA. COKE OR POP)
Carbonated sodas, especially in large quantities, are extremely damaging for teeth. Whether diet or regular, sodas feed the plaque on our teeth, leading to tooth decay and cavities. The more soda you drink, the worse it is, too. If you are constantly drinking sugary, sticky sodas you are regularly coating your teeth in an acid that eats away at your enamel.
Sodas also dry out your mouth, eliminating saliva—the one natural barrier you have against damaging food particles. Dark, carbonated beverages are also responsible for staining and discoloring teeth.
Specifically, chewing on the beverage chiller. While made only of frozen water, with no sugar or other additives, chewing on ice can damage enamel or cause chipped, cracked or broken teeth, or broken or loosened crowns.
Oranges, grapefruits, lemons and other citrus fruits make for delicious snacks and juices packed with antioxidants and vitamins—but they are also packed with corrosive acids that damage enamel. Grapefruit and lemon, in particular, will cause the most damage when regularly ingested.
While dried fruits (prunes, raisins, apricots, etc.) may make for a healthier snack than other options, they are sticky and cling in and on teeth, and in the gaps between. These gummy treats leave behind concentrated sugars that mix with bacteria and can lead to decay.
It goes without saying that overindulging in alcohol is not a healthy choice for your body, but did you know that it’s also bad for tooth health? Alcohol dries out your mouth, and without saliva to wash them away, food particles stick to teeth, potentially leading to tooth decay or gum disease.
The sugar from cocktails also lingers on teeth, mixing with plaque and attacking enamel.
SPORTS & ENERGY DRINKS
Many people think that these drinks are healthier alternatives to sodas but, truthfully, they are just as packed with sugar and often just as acidic—and possibly even more damaging. Sipping on these types of beverages, like the sodas and cocktails discussed above, means bathing teeth in sugars, promoting tooth decay.
CHEWY & GUMMY CANDIES
Chewy and gummy candies are often sticky, like dried fruit, and stick to and between teeth. As the sugars sit on teeth and gums, bacteria feed on them prompting cavities and the deterioration of enamel. This effect is magnified if the gummies and chewy candies are “sours,” creating acids that contribute to decay.
Knowing the ill effects of sweet chewy and gummy candies, it’s no surprise that hard candies are also bad for dental health. While they don’t remain on teeth and gums as long, their very nature makes them a problem. Hard candies dissolve slowly, giving bacteria more time to feed on the sugars and produce acid.
Hard candies also come with the temptation to bite down on and chew them. Unfortunately, this can chip or fracture teeth, or cut your gums.
Red wine, in particular, stains teeth and dries out the mouth, removing the natural saliva that helps to mitigate some of the damage caused by foods. Both red and white wines also contain corrosive acids that can break down enamel, further damaging teeth.
While you may not equate the potential dental damage of a potato chip with sticky sodas and candies, chips are, in fact, filled with starches that—like sugar—get trapped in and between teeth. The refined carbohydrates in chips turn to sugar almost immediately, starting acid production when they combine with the bacteria in your mouth.
As they say, everything in moderation. None of these foods are inherently bad, but when consumed in excess, they can be too much for your dental health. To minimize the potential for damage to teeth, try to consume these foods during meals when they will be accompanied with other less sugary food and drink. It’s also a good idea to drink as much water as possible when eating sugary, citrusy, starchy foods to dilute the acids and wash them down.
If dental health is a topic of interest to you, you may be interested in the Dental Assistant program at Florida Career College. In as few as 10 months, you could have a career helping people care for their dental health. Contact us today!