Did you know that the most nutritionally sound foods and drinks could wreak havoc on your smile? That’s right, even typically “healthy” foods such as oranges, tomatoes, tea, dried fruit, granola, and even nuts have been shown to spoil otherwise robust smiles when not consumed in moderation.
At Smile Design Dental of Coral Springs, Fort Lauderdale, and Hallandale Beach, FL, our dentists are committed to educating patients on the ways in which common foods positively affect – or, in this case, negatively affect – smiles. To discover the very worst foods and drinks for your teeth and gums, read on.
The 15 Worst Foods For Your Teeth & Gums
1. Soft Drinks
Perhaps unsurprisingly, soft drinks that are packed with sugar are a big “no-no” for your oral health. The copious amounts of sugar form acids that attack the vulnerable enamel of the teeth. Unfortunately, diet or sugar-free options are not always the best alternative to sugary soft drinks and sodas. Diet options contain their own corrosive acids in the form of additives. Even carbonated water contains similar properties. Better stick to water!
2. Chewy Candies
Chewy candies, particularly the sour varieties, are on this list because they contain viscous ingredients that function like a glue, essentially “sticking” to the surfaces of your teeth. Some of the absolute worst culprits include gumdrops, caramel, taffy, and chewy sour candies coated in sugar. When the teeth are forced to interact with junk food like this, you are essentially jamming sugar between your teeth and onto your gum line, making it especially difficult to remove.
Believe it or not, vinegar of all varieties can hurt your pearly whites! This is because the common ingredient is packed with acids that have been known to compromise the delicate enamel of teeth. Additionally, vinegar can heighten your chances of developing tooth decay and even tooth sensitivity.
Similar to vinegar, citrus in all forms (grapefruit, oranges, lemons, etc.) contain high amounts of acid. Though the fruits are loaded with healthy properties like vitamin C, they can absolutely damage the outer, protective layer of the teeth when eaten too frequently.
Though their nutritional labels might not say it, crackers made from white flour quickly break down into simple sugars, which could spell trouble for your smile. When these types of sugars are introduced to the mouth, bacteria begins to develop, causing tooth decay.
Wine lover? Bad news – both red and white wines are highly acidic, so much so that teeth could turn yellow and enamel could deteriorate when consumed frequently. In fact, some wine drinkers also complain of tooth sensitivity following a glass of their favorite vino. Unfortunately, the stripping of enamel is to blame, an effect that could develop into serious tooth decay down the road.
7. Pickled Foods
All pickled foods are soaked in vinegar which, you have already learned, can cause serious damage to the teeth. The acidic quality of vinegar is known to threaten the strength of tooth enamel, resulting in tooth sensitivity and even decay. Even worse, many pickled foods contain added sugars, making it a dangerous “double-whammy” against your oral health.
8. Baby Carrots
Just like other crunchy foods, baby carrots, when chilled, can pose a serious risk to your teeth, particularly your front teeth. When baby carrots are refrigerated, they harden, which could cause chips, cracks, or even breaks in the teeth. Our advice? Chop carrots into smaller pieces or enjoy them at room temperature.
Nuts, no matter the variety, can cause significant stress on the teeth due to their ultra-firm shelling and outer layers. In fact, biting down hard on a nut can elicit a splintering effect, causing fractures or breaks in your teeth.
Although ice is just frozen water, it is still one of the worst things you can munch on. Like nuts, ice can cause small – or even large! – fractures and chips in the teeth which can then lead to significant wearing of the enamel. Even worse, when the enamel begins to wear, the teeth instantly become more susceptible to decay when exposed to sugars.
11. Black Tea
Did you know that black tea can cause more staining than coffee? With acidic, tannin-rich properties, black tea is known to cause permanent staining that can be tough to remove. And, of course, your mouth is even more vulnerable when you add sugar or other sweeteners to the tea!
12. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit may seem healthy, but it’s usually loaded with added sugars that can strip away tooth enamel. Furthermore, it has the same consistency as chewy candies, making it difficult to remove from your teeth and gum line after it is consumed. Swap out fresh fruit for dried fruit to get the same nutrients – and healthier teeth!
13. Sports Drinks
As far as dental professionals are concerned, no sports drinks are good for your oral health! Like soft drinks and wine, sports drinks are filled to the brim with added sugars that create dangerous acid when consumed. Though you may be getting more electrolytes when you reach for a sports drink, you are putting your teeth and gums at risk.
14. Potato Chips
Potato chips may be a favorite savory treat for most, but they are anything but healthy! In addition to the high fat content, they also contain lots of starch, which turns into sugar when consumed. This sugar then gets trapped in between the teeth, endangering the health of the gumline and causing cavities.
15. Soy Sauce
While soy sauce may be relatively safe when it comes to enamel preservation, it is known to cause stains, especially in the front-facing teeth. If you are at all worried about keeping your pearly whites white, it is best to skip it or minimize your use of it.
Now that you have a better idea of what foods to cut down on or outright avoid, we sincerely hope you decide to make the dietary changes that can boost your tooth and gum health. If you have any questions about general oral health, nutrition, hygiene, or more, give our South Florida dental offices a call today!