Our teeth are great for chewing foods. Some foods are easier on our teeth than others! Here’s a shortlist of some not-so-good foods for our teeth. Some of them may surprise you!
It’s no news that the stickier and chewier the candy, the more of an enemy it tends to be to your teeth. Think caramel, taffy, and the like. While you’re chewing your sticky morsel and probably enjoying it immensely, it can tug and pull on your dental fillings, sometimes causing them to come loose. Afterwards, the sugar can cling to your teeth for quite a while. That’s when the bacteria in your mouth move in for their own feast. As they consume the sugar, they make acid that wears away at the protective layer of your tooth enamel. Beware of sugary, chewy candy that is also sour because that sour flavor you love so much comes with its own load of acid. The take away? Brush and floss after candy indulgences. If you can’t brush, swish water. The bacteria in your mouth might not thank you for it, but your teeth will!
We don’t mean to pick on candy any more than it picks on your pearly whites. Hard candy doesn’t stick to your teeth as much as the chewy variety, but it has its own method. Since it dissolves slowly, hard candy is in your mouth longer and tends to saturate your mouth – and therefore the surfaces of your teeth – even more. Additionally, many flavors of hard candy are made with citric acid, and we’ve already covered the fact that acid can break down tooth enamel. Last but not least, if you bite down wrong on hard candy, it can bite back, pulling on and even cracking dental restorations. The take away? Brush and floss, and at least swish with water. Also, don’t bite down with reckless abandon! If the artificial sweeteners don’t bother you, consider sugar-free candies as a substitute every now and then.
Citrus fruits, while rich in vitamin C and other nutrients, are hard on your teeth, especially lemon and grapefruit juices. Their high acidity can erode tooth enamel. In 2008, a study that involved soaking teeth in citrus juices
(weird, right?) found that lemon and grapefruit were the biggest culprits of tooth damage. Orange juice was the least damaging. In addition, store-bought OJ is often fortified with calcium and vitamin D, which are both teeth-friendly. The take away? Continue drinking orange juice but don’t use it as mouthwash, and partake of grapefruits and lemons with caution.
Acid. Are you sensing a theme here? The acid in pickles usually comes from vinegar. It’s what gives pickles their sour, salty, pickley taste; it’s also what can harm your teeth. Repeated pickle consumption during the day tends to increase the chances of enamel damage, so perhaps the take away is to eat pickles only once a day or less.
Soda, soda pop, pop, coke… By any name, sugary drinks (including sports drinks) can encourage tooth decay. The acids in carbonated soft drinks have been found to be even worse than the sugar so even if you drink diet, you’re not in the clear. Drinking soda during meals can help because the food tends to neutralize the acid. Also, sipping through a straw can limit the beverage’s direct contact with your teeth. Wine, coffee, black tea, and any other drink that would stain your shirt can also stain and damage your teeth. As always, make sure to drink water, for your teeth and for your body!
Things aren’t all doom and gloom. For every food, drink, or yummy treat that’s bad for your teeth, there are probably a dozen or more that can help keep your teeth healthy and strong. Eat, drink, and brush on!