4 Foods That May Be Harming Your Teeth
Bright smiles look great on the outside, but healthy smiles feel great on the inside too. When you think of dental health, you think of toothbrushes, floss, and mouthwash, right? What many people forget is that the food you eat plays a crucial role in maintaining your pearly whites.
Your diet could be your teeth’s best friend or worst enemy, so keep that in mind on your next grocery trip. The first step in breaking a habit is to understand what is bad and why. Here is a list of four foods to avoid, if you want to keep your smile bright and healthy.
1. Acidic Foods
You might be surprised to learn just how many foods are acidic. Common examples of acidic foods include citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, which are well-known for their tartness. Even seemingly innocuous items like tomatoes and cheese fall into the acidic category due to their pH levels. One standout acidic ingredient is vinegar. Vinegar, including popular varieties like white vinegar and balsamic vinegar, is notably acidic, often having a pH level below 3.
This acidity of vinegar has garnered attention in recent years due to the emergence of health trends promoting the consumption of apple cider vinegar. Proponents of this trend suggest that apple cider vinegar can offer a range of health benefits, from aiding in digestion to supporting weight loss. However, drinking vinegar, especially in undiluted or excessive amounts, can have adverse effects on your teeth.
The high acidity of vinegar can weaken the enamel, the protective outer layer of your teeth, leading to enamel erosion over time. This can increase tooth sensitivity, make your teeth more prone to staining, and potentially contribute to cavities. It’s recommended to consume acidic foods and beverages in moderation to safeguard your oral health.
If you really want to hop on the ACV trend, swap out the liquid for ACV Gummies, which are safer for your teeth. After consuming acidic foods or drinks, rinse your mouth with water to neutralize acids and wash them away. And brush your teeth using fluoride toothpaste, which helps remineralize weakened enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks.
2. Sugary Treats
Everyone is familiar with sweet treats. Cookies, cakes, and ice cream may help satisfy your sweet tooth, but they’re not a great choice when it comes to oral hygiene. If there’s one thing that all dentists agree on is that excessive sugar is bad for your teeth.
Your mouth naturally contains various types of bacteria, some of which are harmful to your dental health. The harmful bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar stuck to your teeth. As these bacteria metabolize sugars, they produce acids as byproducts. As time passes, the acid can erode the protective enamel layer of your teeth, ultimately creating cavities.
The best remedy is preventative care. Instead of munching on chocolate bars, try having fresh fruit or yogurt. These snacks will give you your sweet fix without damaging your teeth. The trick is to not deprive yourself. After all, forbidden fruit does taste the sweetest. If you do have something sugary, don’t forget to rinse and brush right after. That will remove the sticky residue and prevent cavities.
3. Starchy Snacks
They may not feel sticky and sweet, but carbs also turn into sugars. Your saliva breaks down chips and baked goods into sugars, which sneak into the crevices of your teeth. Sometimes just rinsing isn’t enough and these sticky pieces have to be physically removed. Flossing is essential to remove these leftover bits, so there are no picnic spots left for the bacteria.
To floss effectively, take about 18 inches of dental floss, wrap it around your fingers, and gently slide it between each tooth using a sawing motion. Curve the floss into a C shape against each tooth and glide it up and down to clean the sides. As you move to the next tooth, use a clean section of floss. You could also use floss picks or a water flosser. Floss at least once a day, ideally before brushing your teeth, to ensure comprehensive oral hygiene.
It’s important to limit your intake of starchy foods as well. Instead of chips, snack on nuts that are full of fiber, calcium, and phosphorus — a gold mine for oral health. Fiber-rich fruits, such as avocados and pears, also enhance saliva production, which restores minerals that were lost from teeth. Another way to stimulate saliva production is by chewing sugar-free gum. The saliva washes away food residue, keeps the mouth hydrated, and neutralizes the impact of acidic food.
4. Carbonated or Alcoholic Drinks
What you drink can significantly impact the health of your teeth. Sugary and acidic beverages, such as sodas, juices, alcohol, and energy drinks, can contribute to tooth decay and enamel erosion. The fizz of carbonated drinks can contribute to enamel erosion too. Different types of alcohol present different problems related to oral hygiene. Sugary cocktails can lead to plaque buildup whereas heavily-colored drinks like sangria may even stain your teeth.
Another problem with alcoholic beverages is that they can dry out your mouth, reducing saliva. Saliva helps maintain oral health by neutralizing acids, washing away food particles, and providing the minerals necessary for the remineralization of tooth enamel. When alcohol causes a decrease in saliva flow, the protective functions of saliva are compromised. Dry mouth can also contribute to discomfort, difficulty swallowing, and an increased susceptibility to oral infections.
If you do have soft drinks occasionally, sip them through a straw to avoid direct contact with your teeth. If you’re enjoying yourself at the bar, practice moderation and try finding a healthier alternative. Water is an excellent choice for maintaining dental health, as it helps wash away food particles and neutralizes acids. Milk is also beneficial due to its calcium which aids in enamel remineralization. Green tea is a good replacement as well since it has antioxidants, which can reduce oral damage.
Watch What You Consume
In a world filled with tempting treats and quick snacks, make conscious choices that benefit your oral health. Remember that a radiant smile is a combination of smart food choices, proper hygiene, and regular visits to the dentist. Here’s to making delicious choices that keep your teeth looking and feeling good.
Eating nutritious, wholesome foods is key to maintaining good health and well-being. Healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and unsaturated fats provide important nutrients for our bodies. A balanced diet full of colorful fruits and veggies contains vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants that boost immunity and lower disease risk. Swapping out processed snacks with fresh, natural foods can help us feel more energized and optimize body function. Choosing healthy ingredients and preparing them with care allows us to take control of our health. Small changes like eating more plant-based foods, drinking enough water, and limiting sugar intake can make a big difference. Focusing on healthy, nourishing foods is an important act of self-care.