We all know that your diet directly impacts your health, but have you ever thought about how what you eat and drink affects your teeth and gums? Here’s a look at the 10 top worst foods for your oral health and a few tips on how to combat the damage they can do to your mouth.
1. Sweets, Candy and Other Sugary Foods
If you have a sweet tooth, you need to be aware that candy, cookies, pies and other delicious treats can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. Sugary treats can lead to the build-up of bacteria, which in turn can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Certain sweets such as caramels, lollipops, hard candies and jelly beans are even worse than other treats as they stay in your mouth for quite a while, making it harder for your saliva to wash away the sugar. If you can’t resist eating sweets, try to eat them after a meal rather than in between meals. Also, remember to drink lots of water after eating a dessert, and if possible, brush your teeth after indulging.
2. Soft Drinks
You might think you’re in the clear if you are drinking diet/sugar-free soda, but that is not the case. Soft drinks contain acid which harms the enamel on your teeth. It is best to avoid soft drinks altogether if possible. However, if you do drink a soda, make sure to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth since the acid will make your enamel more vulnerable to abrasion.
3. Coffee and Tea
Caffeine is certainly addictive, and most people will admit to having at least one cup of coffee or tea to start their day. That in and of itself isn’t too bad for your oral health, but if you add sugar to your coffee or tea, you may be doing damage to your teeth and gums. In addition, if you drink several cups of coffee or tea per day, you may be staining your teeth and drying out your mouth. If you do consume coffee or tea on a regular basis, make sure to drink plenty of water and avoid sugary add-ins as much as possible.
Both red and white wine contain erosive acid which softens your enamel and leaves your teeth vulnerable to decay. Red wine also contains tannins which can dry out your mouth and stain your teeth. Drink plenty of water along with wine, and consider brushing your teeth before you indulge. This will help reduce the amount of plaque on your teeth and give the tannins less to cling onto. Also, remember to wait at least 30 minutes after having a glass of wine before brushing your teeth.
5. Sports Drinks
After a workout, you may be tempted to down a sports drink to quench your thirst. However, these drinks are acidic and tend to be thick, allowing the liquid to stick on your teeth for quite a while. Water is a much better choice for refueling after working out.
6. Citrus Fruits and Juices
Citrus fruits and juices are definitely part of a healthy diet. However, you need to keep in mind that when you eat or drink a lot of citrus, the acid can wear away at the enamel on your teeth, making them vulnerable to bacteria and cavities. When drinking juices, using straw will help some of the acid bypass your teeth. And as has been mentioned before, wait at least a half an hour before brushing your teeth after eating or drinking anything acidic.
Crackers seem pretty harmless and are the snack choice for many of us – young and older. In moderation, crackers are a fine snack food. However, crackers are refined carbohydrates, and many studies have linked high refined carbohydrate consumption to inflammation. Inflammation is the culprit in many chronic diseases, including periodontitis and gingivitis. So just remember not to overdo it with cracker consumption!
8. Pasta Sauce
Tomatoes are good for you, but you need to be aware that they are very acidic. And when you put a tomato-based pasta sauce on your pasta, you are hitting your mouth with a double whammy. The acidic tomato sauce breaks down the enamel on your teeth and the pasta’s carbohydrates help to feed the bacteria that cause cavities. Something to keep in mind the next time you sit down to a delicious spaghetti dinner.
9. Dried Fruit
Many of us reach for dried fruit as a healthy and convenient snack, but it is good to know that dried fruit is not very friendly to your teeth. Dried fruit contains highly concentrated sugar and has a gummy-like consistency. Both of these factors can lead to tooth decay. You don’t have to remove dried fruit out from your pantry, but make sure to eat it in moderation, drink lots of water and brush your teeth about half an hour after eating any type of dried fruit.
Ice may just be frozen water, but it can do some major damage to your teeth and gums. Chewing on hard substances such as ice can damage your enamel and can lead to a dental emergency if you accidentally chip or break your tooth. As a piece of good advice, it’s better to enjoy water in its liquid form only.