Earlier this week we detailed the best foods and beverages you can include in your daily diet in order to maintain and fortify your teeth and overall oral health. As healthy as you may have felt by the end of that piece, the truth is there are far more edible and drinkable delights out there that can do damage to your teeth than help them. Many of the items listed below will come as no surprise once you understand how they interact with your teeth both immediately and over time. That being said, it may not be easy for some to acknowledge that some of our favourite things to consume may be doing terrible things in our mouth and body. Fret not. We believe that life is to be enjoyed and that moderation plays a big part in that. For those who believe the same, dental tips and information to minimize the negative traits of the items below has been included throughout. Without further ado, this is the Allheals.com list of the Worst Foods for Your Teeth.
Soda and other Carbonated Beverages
Though far from a surprise, the truth is our favourite sodas and carbonated beverages are some of the worst things we can expose our teeth to. Beyond being laced with enough sugar to have grandma in a tizzy, pop is also highly acidic in nature. Acid is bad news for the outermost layer of your teeth, the enamel. Drinking pop regularly can wear away the enamel you have eventually leading to tooth sensitivity and demineralization. Those seeking salvation with a can of Diet Pepsi or Coke Zero are not much better off. Though lacking the sugar content found in regular soda, there remains a considerable amount of citric and phosphoric acid.
What if you absolutely must consume cola? Firstly, keeping it on an infrequent basis will be optimal for your health and fitness. Beyond this, consuming it within a short period of time and with a meal will serve you best as the limited time and direct exposure (thanks to food being chewed before and after) will limit adverse effects. Opt for a straw rather than guzzling straight from the can or bottle as this also limits the exposure to your teeth.
Hard candies to no one’s surprise are composed almost exclusively of sugar. Starting to sense a trend here? Sugar is unquestionably public enemy number one when it comes to your oral health. This is because the bacteria that exists in our mouth feed on sucrose, natural sugar leading to an acidic byproduct that eventually leads to dental caries (cavities). Hard candies tend to exacerbate our oral exposure to such sugars as we keep them in our mouths for extended periods of time. Worse even is the fact that many of us pack them off to one side of our mouth and let them stew there while we go on with our day. Even after the candy has long since been chewed, the remaining bits can remain in the crevices and spaces between teeth. If that wasn’t enough extremely hard candy can be a hazard for the less patient as biting down directly on them increases the risk of cracking and chipping teeth.
Soft Chewy Candies
Although cracking a tooth on a gummy bear should not keep you up at night know that the softer and chewier candies can wreak havoc on your teeth. This is because the sticky remnants remain lodged stubbornly in the spaces on your tooth surface and between your teeth feeding bacteria over a long period of time. This stickiness has a compounding effect as it blocks your tooth from your own saliva, which is the body’s natural means of protecting your teeth.
Certain chewy candies, particularly ones that are sour and sugary such as Cherry Blasters and Sour Patch Kids are even more harmful to teeth due to higher acidity levels. If you do opt to eat these candies (we can’t blame you, we love the chewy stuff) opt to brush your teeth soon after to minimize their negative impact.
Dried Fruit, Canned Fruit and Fruit Juices
Does this category seem counterintuitive? The truth is fresh fruits should be a major component of any healthy and balanced diet. Their dried, canned and juiced variants however are a different story. The process of drying fruits removes water and moisture, leaving a sugar laden sticky treat. As mentioned above, foods that are sugary and sticky do your teeth no favours, feeding cavity creating bacteria. Most canned fruits and fruit juices either have sugar added or are filled with sugar themselves. Some juices such as orange, grapefruit and cranberry are also high in acidity, which wears down tooth enamel and leads to sensitivity.
Beyond the juice, citrus fruits themselves are harmful to your teeth in large quantities. This is due to the adverse effects natural acids like citric acid have on your enamel over time. All that being said, opting for Vitamin D and C fortified juices will be your best bet as at the end of the day many of these are beneficial to your health. Be mindful to not overindulge in these beverages while brushing twice daily and flossing once.
For many of us out there, pickles are a gift from the food gods that can do no harm. Unfortunately as with many of the items above, the acidity that comes from being submerged and pickled in vinegar also has adverse effects on your tooth enamel and its minerals and can also lead to staining. As with citrus fruits, eat pickles in moderation and brush and floss regularly.
Sports and Energy Drinks
Although widely consumed and considered as healthier options than pop and soda, sports and energy drinks including the likes of Gatorade and Red Bull are no friends of your teeth. Both types of beverages are highly acidic which as we have made clear by this point is not good for your teeth.
Shockingly, in a 2008 study several teeth were placed into various beverages for a 25 hour period. After the allotted time it was found that Lemon Lime Gatorade had more detrimental effects on enamel than Red Bull, Coke and Diet Coke.
Coffee and Wine
Both coffee as well as red and white wine are notorious stainers of our teeth. All contain tannins, compounds that dry your mouth and cause staining. Wine is also highly acidic, a result of its fermenting process. A drier mouth results in less saliva production which in turn does not allow your mouth to naturally protect itself.
Coffee is possibly the worst stainer of your teeth, even outpacing cigarettes. These stains are also sticky in nature, attracting food particles and bacteria resulting in plaque buildup over time.
Those of us who have ever tried to chew crackers while whistling (saltines or soda crackers) know how ridiculously flaky and easy to chew they can be. Although those might be seen as positives for a quick snack or a lazy chewer they are not good for your teeth. The refined carbohydrates digest very easily and are readily converted by your oral bacteria. Also, the soft nature of crackers allows them to fill gaps and spaces in your teeth which offers long term snacking for the cavity creators.
In order to keep your mouth in tip top shape, strong oral health habits and routine dental visits are critical. Eating well, including minimizing and avoiding the items list above and eating the right kinds of foods is almost as important and will do wonders for your overall health as well.