Certain bad habits are avoidable when it comes to taking care of your teeth. Chewing on your nails, grinding your teeth and using your teeth to open packages are all things that you might know are bad for your teeth (even though you may slip up every once in a while)!
But, what many may not realize is that the cause of your toothache might not be any of the above. In fact, it could be the type of food you consume every day.
As adults, we generally try to take care of ourselves as best as we can and make sure our kiddos do the same. However, what if you have no idea that a certain food is bad for your teeth? We’re here to help!
Although it might be easier to steer clear of the obvious food choices that are bad for your teeth (such as lollipops and caramels), other less-apparent food choices may be a little more difficult to cut out of your diet.
HOW DOES TOOTH DECAY WORK?
Before looking into which foods are bad for you, it might be worthwhile to note exactly why they are destructive to your oral health. First off, it is important to know how the mouth system works.
When we eat and drink, our mouth jumps into action. Our teeth chomp together to break food into tiny pieces. Salivary glands produce saliva to break down those foods and beverages even further. Saliva also acts to “wash” the mouth so that these particles don’t stick around on our teeth too long.
As amazing as our oral system is, it isn’t perfect. Particles of food and residue from drinks left over from eating and drinking can gather in our mouth. The bacteria in our mouth then feeds on these leftovers, producing acid that eats away at our enamel and gums. If left alone for too long, this may turn into plaque, which then could turn into cavities.
There you have it! A crash course on cavities from the American Dentistry Association.
EVERYDAY FOODS THAT ARE SURPRISINGLY BAD FOR YOUR TEETH
Now, on to the everyday foods that cause these cavities.
Sometimes, you’re craving something crunchy and salty to go along with that lunchtime meal. Or, a savory food to complement that perfectly spicy salsa at your favorite Mexican food restaurant. But, next time you reach for those potato or tortilla chips, you may want to think twice.
These salty snacks are filled with starch – otherwise known as one of the ingredients of carbohydrates. Sugars and starches are the building blocks that make up carbohydrates. Starch breaks down into sugar, which can get trapped in the gums and teeth, causing plaque to wreak havoc.
As a rule of thumb, any carb-heavy snack that is commonly consumed in more than a few bites is usually a top contributor in plaque production.
2. DRIED FRUIT
What’s healthy for your body might not always be the best choice for your teeth! Although fruit is generally a healthy snack to keep you strong, many dried versions of this food group have gummy properties. That, combined with the high sugar content, makes for a sticky situation.
After eating dried fruits like raisins, prunes, dried apples and more, swishing your mouth with water is recommended.
Okay, this one hurts a little. Bread is one of the most universally loved foods in the world, and it’s pretty hard to avoid when you need a base for a meal. However, chewing on bread can cause a lot of problems.
The softness of this food combined with its carb-heavy ingredients makes it bad for the teeth (and overall mouth environment). Bread, when processed by the teeth and saliva, turns into a glue-like substance that settles into tooth crevices and at the gumline.
Instead of eating classic white bread, try wheat or a heartier bread option. These varieties are harder to break down and won’t damage the teeth as much.
4. CITRUS FRUITS
These delectable treats contain high levels of vitamin C – a vitamin that is essential to immune health. However, lemons, oranges and other citrus fruits also contain a lot of acid. This acid, like the kind produced by our mouth bacteria, can break down enamel and potentially cause holes to form in teeth.
Not to fear! As long as you rinse out your mouth after eating or drinking citrus, you should be okay. Just to be safe, brushing your teeth after enjoying any acidic treat is a good habit to pick up.
5. SOUR CANDY
Even regular candy is bad for your teeth, of course. However, the added sour flavor of some candies contains more acid and a grittier texture that is hard on the teeth and gums.
Whereas hard sour candies are bad, chewy sour candies are even worse. Sour gummies can get stuck in your teeth for a longer period of time and can be harder to wash away.
DO I HAVE TO CHANGE MY DIET TO KEEP MY TEETH HEALTHY?
Although it is a good idea to be cognizant of the foods and drinks you consume, this doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to all of your favorite foods forever! As long as all of these treats are eaten in moderation and you practice good oral hygiene, you won’t have to give up eating some of your favorite snacks.
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