Maintaining healthy teeth and an attractive smile takes time and dedication. Practicing good oral hygiene habits, including brushing, flossing, and scheduling dental exams and cleanings, is a big part of that. So too are the food and beverages you consume. To help keep your teeth healthy, try to avoid the following 10 foods and beverages whenever possible.
1. Sour, Hard, or Chewy Candy
Eating too much candy can be damaging to your oral health. To keep this from happening, avoid sour, hard, and chewy candies as a way to ensure your teeth remain intact and healthy.
Each of these types of candies affects your teeth in different ways. Sour candies contain several acids that can be tough on your teeth. Chewy candy sticks easily to tooth enamel and often stays there, leading to decay.
Hard candies, however, are one of the worst choices for more than one reason. Biting down on them can chip, crack, or break a tooth and lead to a dental emergency. Also, these candies consist of high volumes of sugar. Sitting in your mouth until they dissolve exposes your teeth to this sugar over a longer timeframe.
Even if you choose sugar-free candy, it can cause damage as well by sticking to your teeth enamel and creating acids that can lead to damage.
2. Citrus Fruits
When many people think of citrus fruits, they think of high value Vitamin C and treats that are natural and good for the body. While true in many aspects, these fruits can also be damaging to your teeth.
Fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes consist of a low pH, resulting in high acidity, which can erode tooth enamel. In turn, your teeth become more vulnerable to decay. Citrus fruit acids can also irritate mouth sores.
If you choose to consume these fruits, do so in moderation with meals and always rinse your mouth afterward. You can also limit amounts reaching your teeth by sipping citrus fruit juices through a straw.
3. Dried Fruits
Dried fruits are often promoted as a healthy replacement for candy. However, this promotion is deceiving because dried fruits, including apricots, raisins, prunes, and figs, are extremely high in natural sugars. With the water content removed during the drying process, there’s no shielding or buffering teeth from direct contact with these sugars.
In addition, dried fruits are chewy and sticky, causing them to stick or cling to teeth and dental work and also become lodged and trapped in the crevices of your teeth. Even when removed, they leave sugar behind.
Consider eating fresh fruits instead, and whenever you do consume dried versions, always rinse, brush, and floss afterward.
Breads, when interacting with saliva or a beverage within your mouth, become sticky and cling to teeth, especially your molars, and may be hard to dislodge. This clinging, paste-like substance can leave sugar behind and lead to decay and cavities.
Also, your saliva immediately begins breaking the starches in the bread down into sugar, further exposing your teeth and increasing the risk of plaque build-up and decay.
Try switching out white bread for multi-grain versions, which contain less sugar and aren’t broken down as easily.
5. Potato Chips and Crackers
Similar to white breads, potato chips and crackers can become stuck in deep crevices or between teeth, particularly in molars. Most chips and crackers contain high levels of starch, and when chewed, that starch quickly becomes sugar.
The created sugar then gets caught on the top of tooth enamel and between teeth, feeding bacteria that exist within any accumulating plaque.
The more chips you eat, the more acid is created as well and can affect tooth enamel. Also, small pieces can find their way into cracks and crevices within the mouth and become trapped, requiring you to floss to remove them.
6. Pickles and Other Pickled Foods
Pickles may go well with sandwiches, yet they contain a low pH, much like citrus fruits, which means they are highly acidic and can harm your tooth’s enamel.
The majority of pickled foods contain both acid and sugar. Using vinegar in the pickling process itself can also cause staining of teeth and increase the wearing away of tooth enamel.
While homemade popcorn may be a healthy option over potato chips, it is also a top snack to avoid if you want to keep your teeth healthy.
Not only can popcorn become trapped in teeth, the outer kernel shells can slip off and get stuck just underneath your gum line. Also, if not all kernels pop, you’re left with hard bits that you may accidentally bite down on and chip, crack, or break a tooth.
8. Carbonated Beverages
Carbonated beverages, such as sodas, are another item to avoid as much as possible if you want to maintain healthier teeth. Even beverages labeled “diet” are damaging to teeth, so heed those as well.
In addition to sugar, carbonated drinks increase the production of acid in the mouth, attacking tooth enamel and causing damage. They can also cause your mouth to dry, lessening the amount of saliva, which is instrumental in removing sugars and acids off the surface of teeth.
If you do drink carbonated beverages, avoid brushing right away as this can accelerate enamel erosion and also the development of decay.
9. Sports Drinks
While staying hydrated is essential, sports drinks are not a healthy option for you or your teeth. Just take a quick examination of the labels, and you’ll see that sugar is usually high up on the list.
Many sports drinks today are also flavored with a citric acid, which can cause enamel erosion and tooth decay.
While not technically a food, ice makes the list because it is so common, and many people often chew on it unconsciously. Biting down on hard ice chips or cubes can chip, crack, break, or loosen teeth or dental restorations such as crowns. Chewing on ice can also damage tooth enamel.
Contact South Dayton Smiles for All Your Dental Needs
Practicing good oral hygiene includes watching what you eat and knowing how to care for your teeth if something goes wrong. Here at South Dayton Smiles, we can help you maintain healthier teeth and gums and address any dental emergencies that arise. Contact our Miamisburg, Ohio office today to learn more or to schedule an appointment for whatever your dental needs may be.