No matter what age you are, the reasons for tooth decay are the same. Tooth decay occurs when you have plaque with bacteria that feeds on the sugar you’re adding to your diet, which can cause cavities. Cavities are due to the bacteria metabolizing sugar and turning it into acid dissolving your tooth structure.
Eating foods that are bad for your teeth can contribute to plaque and tooth decay. Below, you’ll learn which foods you should stay away from, or at least limit, to keep your teeth as healthy as possible.
Worst Foods for Your Teeth
Most people realize exercise and diet play an essential role in keeping them healthy. However, do you realize how important a healthy mouth is for a healthy body?
Poor oral health can impact your quality of life by affecting your mental, physical and social well-being. Missing teeth, oral infections and oral pain can influence how you:
Certain foods can contribute to oral issues that can affect your well-being. Here are some of the worst foods for your teeth:
1. Sugary Sweets and Candies
If you need to have sweets, eat those that quickly dissolve in your mouth. Candy that stays in your mouth for a while, such as caramels, lollipops, hard candies and jelly beans, make it harder for your saliva to wash away the sugar. Certain desserts with a lot of sugar can cause tooth decay, including:
- Other desserts
If you can’t resist eating sweets, try eating them after a main meal, rather than between meals. And, brush your teeth after you eat anything sweet if possible.
2. Soft Drinks
Soft drinks, whether sugar-free or not, contain acid. They can be damaging to teeth and can lead to increased cavities and dental erosion. Avoid soft drinks to help keep your teeth healthier. Drink unsweetened tea or water instead. If you must drink soft drinks, refrain from brushing your teeth immediately after since acid softens your teeth’s structure, making them more vulnerable to abrasion.
Vinegar has acid, which is important in the pickling process. This acid not only can cause staining but can wear away your teeth’s enamel. Most pickled foods also have sugar, which is another contributor to cavities.
White and red wine contains erosive acid, which softens enamel. Red wine contains compounds called tannins, which can dry your mouth out and stain your teeth. If you plan on drinking wine, be sure to brush your teeth beforehand. This can help to reduce the amount of plaque that wine can stick to. It’s also helpful to wait 30 minutes after drinking wine to brush your teeth to avoid brushing the acid from wine into your teeth.
5. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits can be an important component of a well-balanced diet. But, when you eat a lot of it on its own, the citric acid in the fruit can wear away at your tooth enamel, leaving your teeth vulnerable to cavities. Lemons, limes and grapefruit, especially, are highly acidic. When drinking juices, consider using a straw so that some of the acids bypasses your teeth.
Crackers are refined carbohydrates, and numerous studies have founds links between high refined carbohydrate consumption to body inflammation. Inflammation is the main player in various chronic diseases such as periodontitis and gingivitis (inflammation around the tissues supporting your teeth).
7. Sports Beverages
Avoid sweet, viscous liquids like some high-carb sports drinks. These are not only acidic, but the thick liquid may stick on your teeth for a long time. Water is often the best go-to for refueling after a workout.
Regardless of whether it’s brown sugar, refined white sugar or honey, it’s still sugar. The amount you eat isn’t what typically matters but rather how often. Sugar turns your mouth into an acidic environment, which persists for a couple of hours after you consume it. If you drink or eat some sugar every couple of hours, you’ll be continuously bathing your teeth in the acid, which can dissolve your tooth enamel directly.
Processed foods like spaghetti sauce and ketchup contain high amounts of sugar too. Juices that are labeled “no added sugar” still have natural sugar in them.
If you’re consuming foods with a lot of sugar, you should consume them with your meals instead of as snacks since you produce more saliva in your mouth during meals, and this helps neutralize acid production. Wait about 20 minutes before brushing your teeth after a meal too. This will give your saliva a chance to remineralize your enamel that the acid dissolved.
9. Pasta Sauce
While tomatoes are healthy to eat, they’re acidic. When you eat spaghetti with tomato sauce, it can do double damage to your enamel due to the acidic sauce breaking down your tooth’s enamel and the pasta’s carbs helping to feed bacteria that cause cavities. Instead, try eating some pasta with cheese.
10. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is well-known for its detoxifying properties, but it is highly acidic and can erode your tooth enamel quickly. If you drink apple cider vinegar, add water to it and drink it all at once, instead of sipping on it. Then rinse your mouth and teeth well afterward.
11. Dried Fruits
Dried fruits, like apricots, raisins and pineapple, are definitely tasty, but consuming them regularly could lead to tooth decay. Dried fruit contains highly concentrated sugar, and its texture, which is gummy-like, can cause it to cling to your teeth.
The bottom line is that sugar and acid can be your teeth’s worst enemy. Your mouth will be happier if you consume food that provides vitamins and minerals, neutralizes acids, stimulates saliva and repairs tooth enamel. Good nutrition can help build strong gums and teeth. Avoid foods that cause plaque on teeth. Instead, munch on more mouth-friendly snacks like nuts, cheeses, non-acidic fruits and vegetables.
Contact Dental Choice to Schedule Your Appointment
We want you to have the healthiest mouth and teeth possible. We take pride in making our patients our number one priority. Call us today with any questions you have about your dental health or to set up an appointment for a comprehensive dental exam and cleaning.