You take pride in your teeth. You strive to keep them white and gleaming. You brush them rigorously twice a day, and you never forget to floss after you wake up and before you go to bed. You even use fluoride mouthwash to get that extra dentist-like touch.
But do you eat the right foods?
What you put in your mouth can have a huge bearing on the health of your teeth. Foods like dried fruit, orange juice, and pickles might add a healthy balance to your diet. Or so you think. Are these foods actually harmful to that pearly enamel?
In this blog, we discuss seven of the worst foods for your teeth and healthy alternatives to try instead.
1. Potato Chips
You love them as part of your lunch. You snack on them during your Netflix binges. And you can’t resist their crunchy goodness. But when eaten in abundance, potato chips leave pockets of starch in between your teeth that help contribute to plaque and cavities.
Instead, Eat: Cinnamon Apple Chips
Sure, you might need to get creative (or use a good recipe), but apple chips deliver the taste and crunch you want without all that starch.
Chewy candies like Sour Patch Kids, Charleston Chews, and Riesen leave sugary remnants in your molars and can pull fillings out of teeth. And hard candies like Lifesavers and Jolly Ranchers can expose your teeth to sugar for an even longer time period.
Instead, Eat: Trail Mix
A hearty bag of trail mix can satisfy your sweet tooth while introducing less sugar to your mouth. Feel free to include some dark chocolate chips to balance the salty, nutty flavor.
On its own, a can of Dr. Pepper or A&W is fine. But when your soda drinking turns into a constant or daily habit, your teeth risk getting stained over time. Sugary sodas are best enjoyed every so often.
Instead, Drink: Lemon-Lime Club Soda
You can still experience the refreshing crispness of soda by adding slices of lemon and lime to a cup of cold, fizzing club soda. You’ll bypass the dark color and the excessive grams of sugar.
While raspberries, blueberries, and cranberries are good for you, they can also leave stains on enamel over time. Berries that are richly dark or red in color can leave an ever-so-slight film over your teeth. But a quick rinse can help wash stains away.
Instead, Eat: A Balanced Intake of Fruits and Vegetables
You can avoid unnecessary staining when you eat a healthy balance of various fruits and vegetables, from melons to carrots to apples.
5. Processed Bread
Though you may love to make grilled sandwiches and toast with your favorite sliced bread, the processed carbs turn into sugars after coming into contact with saliva. These sugars, converted into acids by bacteria, eat away at your teeth. Sliced bread is not necessarily an unhealthy food, but when eaten in excess, it can do more harm than good.
Instead, Eat: Bakery Bread
Bread made by your local bakery has a more authentic taste and texture. You’ll love the flaky, golden crust and the soft, spongy texture, and you’ll protect your teeth from excessive amounts of processed carbs.
Who doesn’t like a warm cup of rich, roasted coffee on the morning commute to the office? While dark or natural roasts might yield some health benefits (like decreased risk for liver cancer), they contain acids that reduce enamel strength and cause stains. Your teeth are at risk only if you’re a daily coffee consumer or if you drink coffee multiple times per day.
Instead, Drink: Milk
A full glass of milk inflicts no enamel stains and strengthens teeth with vitamin D and calcium. If you don’t like the taste of dairy, try soy milk or almond milk. Just remember to find an alternative that contains adequate calcium or vitamin D.
You love chilling your favorite beverage with cold cubes of ice. But when you chew on ice, you put your teeth in danger. Ice’s hard, brittle nature can crack teeth (or fillings) and put unnecessary pressure on your jaw. In addition, your teeth will suffer irritation and sensitivity from the contact of ice.
Instead, Chew: Sugar-Free Gum
Nowadays, so many types of sugarless gum line the check-out aisles of grocery stores. Replace your habit of gnawing on ice with chewing a stick of spearmint or wintergreen gum. Sugar-free gum contains xylitol, an ingredient which can help prevent cavities. Minty gum will also keep your breath fresh and clean.
You can still enjoy these foods and beverages from time to time. The key is to stay informed of the potentially dangerous effects of the above listed items and to continue brushing and flossing regularly. Remember to contact your local dentist if you’d like to learn more about proper oral care.