Oregon City dentist Dr. Brett Johnson hopes that by now most of our patients at Oregon City Dentistry understand that the basic recipe for maintaining healthy teeth and gums includes brushing and flossing daily, along with eating a diet full of teeth-healthy foods. However, what many people may not realize is how some choices about what they eat can contribute to the wear and tear of their teeth.
In case you’re wondering what makes a particular food troublesome for a healthy smile, the bacteria that live in the mouth – commonly referred to as plaque – consume sugars you eat in order to live. The result of bacteria using sugars as a food source is an acid secretion that works to dissolve tooth enamel and cause cavities to develop.
Generally speaking, the worst kinds of foods for your teeth are those that are both sticky and sugary. The reason being that when foods are sticky, they tend to stay on your teeth for longer, which provides harmful bacteria with more sugar to burn and more damage to occur to your tooth enamel.
Foods that have a high acid content also can spell trouble for your teeth, as they have the potential to damage tooth enamel in much the same way as plaque acid can. This means that foods and drinks that are both sugary and acidic – like soda for example – mean double trouble to the health of your teeth.
While saliva often acts as the body’s natural defense against lingering foods particles and plaque acids in the mouth, it cannot always overcome the stickiest and sweetest foods people commonly eat throughout the day. With that in mind, here are six of the worst foods and drinks for your teeth.
While dried apricots, cranberries or raisins might not seem like a bad choice for a snack, they still meets the requirement for trouble as they are both sweet and sticky. So while these fruits cling to your teeth hours after consuming them, they continue to feed harmful bacteria sugars they can then transform into damaging acids. Fortunately, you don’t need to give up on dried fruit altogether, just make sure you brush or thoroughly rinse your mouth with water when finished eating.
Sugary beverages like sodas, sports drinks and artificially sweetened juices ranks as some of the most tooth damaging items you consume. High in both sugar and acid, these types of beverages bath your teeth in enamel corroding liquids with every sip. You can offset some of the damage soft drinks cause your teeth by finishing the beverages quickly or enjoying them with a meal. Just don’t continue sipping on one throughout the day.
A staple of grandma’s candy dish, hard candies also have a double whammy affect your teeth. Like with soda, they tend to stay in the mouth for long periods of time as you wait for them to dissolve and they stick to your teeth when finished. Make sure to drink plenty of water after eating any hard candy to help rinse any lingering sugars from your mouth.
The dizzying effects alcohol provides are the result of sugar fermentation, meaning the alcohol by its very nature has a high sugar content. Not only that, but alcohol also causes the mouth to decrease its saliva production. As mentioned previously, saliva plays a vital role in your body’s natural defenses against harmful plaque acids. Alcohol also has a very astringent affect on delicate gum tissue, which can cause serious problems long-term. This is one of the reasons why alcoholics have a higher risk of suffering from gum disease and tooth decay.
A painful truth for those of us whose day doesn’t really begin until we’ve enjoyed our first cup, but drinking coffee presents several problems for your teeth. In addition to helping stain those once pearly whites, coffee also makes teeth more receptive to food particles. In other words, drinking coffee makes your teeth stickier.
While cutting carbs may be in vogue right now for losing weights, eating fewer starches during the day isn’t a bad thing when it comes to making your teeth healthier either. Carbohydrates are just another type of sugar after all, and ones high in starch like white bread and potato chips becomes easily stuck between gums and along the gum lime following a meal.
If you have any questions about foods that could rob your teeth of a little of their luster, feel free to ask Oregon City family dentist Dr. Brett Johnson during your next appointment at Oregon City Dentistry.