10 Foods Secretly Wreaking Havoc on Your Teeth
March is National Nutrition Month, which highlights how exercise and diet play an essential role in a healthy body. Poor oral health has a direct impact on overall health, and you may not realize that some foods in your diet are working against you. Let’s deep dive into which foods are secretly wreaking havoc on your teeth:
1. Candy & Sweet (or Sour) Treats
With National Nutrition Month positioned right between Valentine’s Day and Easter, this is not something anyone wants to hear. But there is good news! Sweet treats in moderation are not detrimental, but the ones that do not dissolve quickly — e.g. lollipops, caramels, hard candies, etc — do more harm to your tooth enamel . Make sure to drink water to help your salivary glands wash away the sugar, and (of course) brush your teeth!
2. Carbonated (aka Soft) Drinks
Soft drinks contain acid, and that acid can be damaging to teeth when consumed regularly. This can lead to enamel erosion and increased decay. But if cutting carbonated drinks out of your diet isn’t in the cards, rotate in water or unsweet tea to your daily regime to counterbalance the acidity.
3. Sports Drinks
Despite what sports drink companies will tell you, water is always the best rehydrating and refueling beverage for your body and teeth. Sports drinks have high sugar content, lots of carbohydrates, and acidity.
Red wine contains tannins, compounds that dry your mouth out. This causes the pores in your enamel to open and soak up the tannins, which results in staining. Protect your teeth from staining by brushing them before drinking wine — and rinse with a mouthwash to strengthen enamel.
5. Citrus Fruits
You may be thinking, “Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C, so that’s good right?” Yes, but they contain lots of acid as well, causing all kinds of problems from cavities to mouth sores. When balancing your diet with fruits and vegetables, make sure to limit highly acidic foods to sparingly.
6. White Bread
When you chew white bread the starch breaks down into sugar in your mouth, sticking in between your teeth. So opt for whole wheat bread, which contains less added sugars.
The act of pickling is soaking in vinegar, which contains — you guessed it — high levels of acid. Most pickled foods also contain sugar, so pickles pack a one-two punch!
8. Chips & Crackers
We all crave a good crunch, and what packs a better one than chips and crackers? Unfortunately, both are loaded with starches that break down into sugar and stick to teeth. It’s impossible to have just one, so the sugar stays on the teeth for quite awhile.
9. Tomatoes & Tomato Products
Tomatoes are healthy to eat, but just like citrus fruits they are chocked full of acidity. Pasta sauce on pasta hits your teeth with a double right hook — carbs (aka sugar) plus acidity. Enjoy tomatoes and tomato products with something that cuts the acidity (like cheese!).
The American Dental Association (ADA) strongly advises against chewing ice, and we absolutely agree. Chewing on ice, or other hard substances, can cause chipped, cracked, or broken teeth. If you find it hard to resist the urge, try sucking on the ice instead of crunching. This will hydrate while also neutralizing the acid in your mouth!
No matter what diet changes you make, remember to maintain balance and not overindulge on highly acidic foods or carbohydrates too frequently. Continue a healthy oral hygiene routine of brushing at least twice a day, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly to stay ahead of potential dental problems. A healthy body starts with a healthy mouth!