Previously we touched upon the positive foods for your teeth, and you probably didn't even realize that you were eating those foods that are good for your teeth. Hopefully after reading that article, you've made an effort to include more of those foods into your diet. The bad news is you may be eating harmful foods and not even realize that they're impacting your teeth. Foods bad for your teeth have a habit of sneaking their way into your diet, often because they taste good. However, you should make an effort to limit these guilty pleasures for the sake of your dental health.
If you do eat these foods often, make sure you brush afterward to reduce their impact. That said, start with a drink of water to encourage saliva flow for a while before you brush. Brushing immediately after eating or drinking harmful foods is not a strategy most dentists recommend. Instead it's best to wait a while and then brush to let you saliva wash away acids from the harmful food and drink. Let's take a closer look at several foods that can take a toll on your teeth.
Sugary Foods And Drinks
This first food (and drink) is a fairly obvious one, and it includes sugar heavy foods, candy, sugar sweeteners and sugary beverages like soda. Consuming soda is an especially bad habit as many prefer the taste of soda to more healthy and necessary drinks like water. Sugar impacts your teeth in a complex way that many may not realize. As you consume sugar, bacteria in your mouth rise to feed on it, and they in turn create acids that wear down the enamel on your teeth. The longer the acid stays on your teeth, the more damage it does. Aside from reducing the amount of sugar you consume, the best way to combat tooth decay from sugar is to wash it away promptly after consumption. Drinking water, stimulating saliva flow and brushing your teeth after waiting a while are good ways to purge the acid from your teeth.
Coffee And Tea
Tea and especially coffee are in constant fluctuation as to whether they're considered good or bad for you. As far as your teeth are concerned, coffee and tea can have a negative impact if consumed too frequently. First, coffee and tea can stain your teeth and contribute to a yellowed or darkened appearance. Next, caffeine can dehydrate you and reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth. As we mentioned above, saliva can help wash off acids and remineralize your teeth.
Finally, beverages like coffee contain acids that will break down tooth enamel on their own. If you feel like the yellowing effect of coffee and tea has impacted your teeth, stop in to Grace & Leedy and schedule a consult for in-office whitening treatment. As far as consumption of coffee and tea goes, drink them in moderation and make sure you brush your teeth afterward to minimize impact.
Crunchy / Chewy Foods
Crunchy and chewy foods are popular snacks, but they too can have a negative effect on your teeth. Good examples include potato chips and popcorn. Crunchy foods tend to fragment as you chew them, which means they are likely to get stuck in hidden spaces between your teeth. These lost food particles can contribute to bacteria and plaque growth if not removed promptly. Flossing is a good way to remove these hidden food particles after eating crunch food. In addition, crunchy foods can be hard on the teeth as you chew, and even cause damage if your teeth strike them the wrong way. Be careful as you chew and choose your crunchy snacks carefully.
As for chewy and sticky foods, they impact your teeth in a different way. While they are gentler on the teeth as you chew, they can get stuck to your teeth instead of swallowed. This means you may not be aware that they are stuck, but meanwhile they are encouraging tooth decay as they are stuck to your teeth. The worst chewy culprits are foods that are high in sugar. If you find yourself consuming sticky foods, make sure you rinse your mouth with water directly afterward and floss and brush your teeth thoroughly when you have the chance.
Citrus Fruits And Juices
Citrus fruits are a popular flavoring in foods and drinks, but they contain harmful acids that can wear away the enamel on your teeth. Whether it is a squeeze of lime in your food or a glass of orange juice in the morning, it's important to limit citrus in your diet. Citrus can also aggravate existing sores in your mouth. Care after consuming citrus is much the same as above. You can wash it away with water and encourage saliva flow in your mouth as well as brush your teeth when appropriate.
Wait, ice is simply made of water. What can be so bad about ice? Well it's not the ingredients but the way ice is consumed. Many people have developed the habit of chewing ice, but this can be really hard on your teeth. As you chew the ice, you increase the likelihood of tooth damage. If you have developed the habit of chewing ice, make an effort to stop before any more damage is sustained. You can opt to drink through a straw to prevent the temptation of chewing ice in your mouth as well.
Final Thoughts On Harmful Foods
It can be a challenge to balance dental health concerns with the temptation of tasty foods and beverages. However, simply overindulging in foods that are harmful for your teeth can lead to some serious problems down the line. Try to reduce your consumption of the foods and drinks listed above, and keep brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash regularly. Don't forget to stay hydrated as well. Saliva is your biggest weapon against these harmful foods, and a good rinse with water will help wash away any harmful bacteria and acids left over. Still have questions about the foods you're eating? Contact Grace & Leedy Family Dentistry for a checkup and consult today.
Image three courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.