Ten Popular Foods & Drinks That Nashville Dentists Wish You Knew Were Damaging Your Teeth
August 31, 2022
When you have a meal or snack every day, how much thought are you putting into the damage these items are doing to your teeth? Most people know that crunching hard candies or ice can fracture or chip teeth. People also know that sodas are a great choice if you’re hoping to get cavities.
But, there are other choices that people don’t realize can damage the teeth. Nashville dental practice Jody Jones DDS has a list of ten foods and beverages that you should be careful consuming because they damage teeth.
Did you know that even healthy cereals are loaded with added sugar? Take Kellogg’s All-Bran, which many doctors will tell you is a great option for the fiber content. A serving is two-thirds of a cup and that serving size contains 8 grams of added sugar. Special K has 4 grams of added sugar.
All of that added sugar interacts with bacteria within the mouth to create acid that dissolves enamel. Enamel loss increases the risk of tooth decay.
Muesli usually doesn’t have added sugar, but the dried fruits in many muesli brands are just as damaging. More on that later.
Citrus Fruits and Juices
Citrus fruits are highly acidic and damage enamel. If you like to eat an orange as a snack, you’re damaging your teeth. Lemon water, a slice of lime or lemon in your seltzer, lemonade, limeade, and orange juice all contain acidic citrus juices that damage the enamel.
In general, any citrus fruits are bad for the tooth’s enamel. If you eat or drink items with lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, etc. juices or pulp, it’s important to rinse the mouth with water after that. If you rinse away as much of the acidity as you can, the better it is for your teeth.
Do not immediately brush your teeth. Acidity weakens enamel, but if you let saliva rinse out the mouth for 30 minutes, the enamel has time to re-harden. When you brush your teeth, you’re not brushing and causing damage to the softer enamel.
Coffee & Tea
Coffee and tea are also acidic. They’re both popular beverages, but they’re acidic and can damage enamel and even stain the teeth. In addition to them being acidic, people often add items that also damage the teeth. A sweetener like sugar, honey, or maple syrup adds to the damage. Adding a slice of lemon to iced or hot tea is damaging.
Again, no one wants to give up a favorite beverage. After you’ve had your cup of coffee or tea, follow it with a glass of water. Rinse the mouth out to prevent damage to the enamel.
Crackers and Potato Chips
A lot of people think that a handful of wheat crackers is a healthy snack. Starchy foods like crackers and potato chips are damaging. They’re not tooth-friendly items. The sticky starches in a chewed-up cracker or chip cling in the crevices on molars. They don’t rinse away easily, and the starches contain natural sugars that mix with bacteria and create acidity.
If you’re going to eat crackers, make sure you drink a glass of water to remove as much starch as you can. Wait about half an hour to let enamel re-harden before you brush your teeth, paying close attention to the crevices in the molars where crackers tend to get stuck.
Here’s another snack that people think is a healthy option that’s actually damaging. Dried fruits are high in natural sugars and cling to the teeth. Raisins, dried apricots, dried figs, and dried dates are all bad for the enamel as the sugars in them become acidic with the help of the mouth’s bacteria.
Energy and Sports Drinks
Energy and sports drinks are loaded with sugar. Plus, they often have acidic citrus juices, so they double up and damage the enamel. As tempting as it is to rely on these to replenish minerals and electrolytes on a hot, humid day or after a strenuous workout, avoid sports and energy drinks.
Instead of energy or sports drinks, drink unsweetened coconut water or water that’s infused with electrolytes. They’ll be easier on the teeth than an energy drink. You could also make a smoothie that contains nut milk, avocado, bananas, and kale or spinach. There will still be natural sugars in that smoothie, but you’re getting essential nutrients and avoiding added sugars.
Pickles are soaked in a brine that contains vinegar, spices, salt, and water. Some pickles, such as bread and butter pickles, also have sugar in the brine. Between the acidity of the vinegar and the added damage the sugar causes, pickles are not great for the teeth.
Worse, some people drink pickle juice citing health benefits like helping with blood sugar levels, boosting electrolytes, and improving gut health. Pickle juice is just as damaging as eating pickles.
Popcorn, especially air-popped, is a healthier snack option, but many people like to crunch the half-popped kernels. They’re damaging to the teeth and can chip or fracture molars. Plus, the hard coating on a kernel may get trapped under your gum and cause pain and inflammation.
If you like a crunchy snack, celery sticks, apple slices, cucumber slices, and carrot sticks are better for your teeth. If you do want popcorn, make sure you’re removing all partially popped kernels and flossing carefully after to remove any of the kernel’s shells from the gum line.
Like citrus fruits, tomatoes are acidic. They’re a great food as they’re rich in antioxidants, but you have to be careful after. Drink a glass of water after having tomatoes. Rinse away as much of the acidity as you can. After half an hour, brush your teeth to help protect your enamel. A toothpaste designed to restore enamel is ideal.
Finally, wine is another popular beverage that’s bad for the teeth. First, it dries out the mouth. Alcohol is drying, so saliva production lessens, and that reduces the amount of saliva that’s available to rinse bacteria and food particles from the teeth. Second, wine is acidic and damages the enamel layer. Third, wine is fermented through the use of sugar, around 2 grams of sugar remains in a 5-ounce glass of wine.
Whether it’s red or white wine, both cause damage to the tooth’s protective enamel layer. If you like to have a glass of wine with dinner, make sure you have a glass of water available at the same time. Drink them together to help rinse the acidity and sugars from the teeth as you eat.
What Can You Do?
Avoiding foods and beverages that damage the teeth is difficult, but you can take steps to protect your teeth through the tips like drinking water to rinse away bacteria, sugar, starches, and acid. You should brush and floss your teeth regularly. You also need to see a dentist.
People should go for a cleaning at least twice a year. How long has it been since your last cleaning? It’s estimated that one out of five people does not see a dentist regularly due to dental anxiety. Dr. Jody Jones understands that dental anxiety can make it impossible to see a dentist. That’s why his Nashville dental practice specializes in sedation dentistry. If fear keeps you from having your teeth cleaned and examined, give us a call to schedule an appointment designed to make your dental visit stress-free and comfortable.