You’re probably already aware that your diet affects your oral health just as much as it does the rest of your body. But did you know that specific foods can actually damage your teeth far more than others? Certain chemical compounds, ingredients and consistencies found in these foods have been known to contribute to mild or severe tooth decay.
To prevent yourself from developing a dental cavity and to protect your oral health, you should think twice about everything you eat and drink. As you probably already know junk foods that are high in calories and processed sugars can do a number on your teeth. But you might be surprised to know that a few foods like fruits and vegetables that are also known to be high in natural sugars and carbohydrates can have the same effect. Limiting your consumption of the following foods is a great starting point to achieve better oral health—but if you must eat them, make sure to brush your teeth immediately after!
Sour candies are one of the biggest offenders when it comes to foods that cause tooth decay and gum disease. The reason for this is because they’re usually chewy, which causes them to stick to the crevices on your teeth. The longer the remnants of sour candies stay stuck to your teeth, the harder they are to remove later on, even if you have a rigorous dental hygiene routine. The candy hardens and crystallizes, which over time can cause serious dental problems. If you’re craving something sweet, stick to eating a piece of chocolate to satisfy the craving.
Basically, any acidic foods including citrus fruits like lemons, limes and oranges can all lead to tooth decay over time. The acidity in these foods wears down your tooth enamel, which is the protective layer that prevents harmful bacteria from damaging your teeth. Weakened or diminished tooth enamel also leads to a host of other oral health problems, most notably sensitivity and discolouration. The less enamel you have left, the more the inner layer of your teeth, known as dentin, is exposed. Dentin has a naturally yellow hue, which means your teeth will also look yellow instead of white.
All foods that are high in carbohydrates have the potential to destroy your oral health. But nothing does it quite like refined and highly processed bread. When you consume white bread in particular, the saliva in your mouth breaks down the carbohydrates and converts them into sugar. Those sugars form a sticky white paste-like consistency as you continue chewing and eventually become stuck to the inner crevices of your teeth. Since most people consume bread throughout the day and don’t brush or floss their teeth again until right before bed, those sugary remnants have ample opportunity to wreak havoc on your dental health. Rinsing your mouth out immediately after eating can help lessen the blow.
Pretty much any food can be pickled. Of course, the most well-known pickled food is the cucumber. However, even pickled beets, lemons, oranges, mangoes, sauerkraut and so on can all have damaging effects on your teeth. In most cases, the problem isn’t so much with what’s being pickled as it is with the actual pickling process and ingredients. Pickling involves preserving food items in either saltwater or vinegar brine, both of which have acidity levels that are off the charts. Saltwater and vinegar are both harsh on your enamel and have the power to weaken and wear away at it. Just be mindful of the type and amount of pickled foods in your diet!
It’s no secret that alcohol isn’t the healthiest thing in the world for you. But it’s especially unhealthy for your teeth. Like bread, alcohol contains a lot of sugar compounds that are further broken down by your saliva during consumption. The fruitier the drink, the worse it is for your teeth. Mixed drinks, which contain a lot of sugary and fruity syrups are the worst culprits. On top of wearing down your tooth enamel, the sugar in alcohol also dehydrates your system, which causes dry mouth and hangovers. Dry mouth is also directly associated with tooth decay. So be sure to drink plenty of water when consuming alcohol. The trick to avoiding dehydration altogether is to drink a one to one ratio of water (one glass of water for every glass of an alcoholic beverage)
As healthy and commendable as it is to snack on fruits instead of candies, dried fruits can actually have the same harmful impact on your teeth as junk food. Fruit already contains high levels of natural sugars and when it’s dried out, those sugars tend to crystallize into a sticky and chewy consistency. Much like sour and chewy candies, the fruit will stick to the inner crevices of your teeth and eventually erode your tooth enamel, leading to sensitivity and cavities. If you’re craving some sweet fruit, it’s better to stick to fresh varieties instead.
While popcorn is usually the snack of choice when you’re settling down to watch a movie and it’s relatively low in calories compared to other movie theater concession items, it’s also terrible for your teeth. Everyone’s had those annoying kernels stuck between their teeth at one point or another. The fine pieces can slide under the gums and cause an infection, especially if you can’t get it out quickly. Also the very hard kernels have been known to break pieces off the teeth resulting in pain or sensitivity and costly repairs. But the problem gets even worse if you’re consuming flavoured popcorn like caramel, cheese, or confetti. Flavoured popcorn typically contains a lot of sugar, acid, and salt—all of which are very bad for your dental health.
Another sticky and sugary item on this list, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches might be a favourite childhood after-school snack, but the sheer amount of sugar can be very damaging for your teeth. Nowadays, though, there are so many healthier varieties of peanut butter. But even if you choose an all-natural sugar-free alternative, you should still rinse your mouth out afterward to prevent it from sticking to your teeth.
Need more advice about what foods to avoid in order to maintain your oral health?
Make an appointment at Princeview Dental Group in Etobicoke today! For over 30 years, we’ve been teaching patients how to make healthy lifestyle choices to maintain optimal oral health. Contact us today to learn more!