What Not to Eat for Healthy Teeth
The foods that damage teeth fall into two categories. Foods high in sugar and acidic foods cause cavities. These foods should be avoided or minimized to maintain healthy teeth.
Foods That Can Hurt Your Teeth
Food culprits with sugar, acid or both break down the enamel on your teeth and allow bacteria to penetrate the protective layer and create a cavity. As you continue to eat these types of damaging foods and drinks, the bacteria thrive as they multiply and release more destructive acid.
These are the foods to avoid for healthy teeth:
- Hard Tack Candy. Hard tack candy and cough drops are full of sugar. This constant sugar bathing of your teeth is worse than just eating a piece of chocolate. Although the sugar content may be the same, the exposure is limited when you eat the chocolate, immediately rinse your mouth and brush 30 minutes later.
- Dried Fruit. Dried fruit is a double assault on healthy teeth. The dehydration process concentrates the sugar content into a sticky and sweet concoction. Since sticky foods adhere to your teeth longer than other foods, sticky food with sugar is the perfect recipe for a cavity.
- Carbonated Soft Drinks. Carbonated soft drinks contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Diet soda is not much better, since both regular and diet are loaded with phosphoric and citric acid. When you add the drying effects of caffeine in the soda, you have a cavity trifecta.
- Popcorn. Popcorn can cause cavities with the lactic acid it produces. In addition to the acid issue, the kernel hulls can get stuck between your teeth. If the hull is not flossed out completely, it can cause an abscess. Un-popped kernels can break and crack your teeth, causing a painful dental emergency.
- Peanut Butter and Jelly. This childhood favorite combines everything needed to create a cavity. Most peanut butter has added sugar. With its sticky texture, the peanut butter adheres to the tooth while the sugar in the jelly reinforces the attack.
Alternative Foods for Healthy Teeth
There are alternatives in food and drink choices that are healthier for your teeth. Consider these options:
- Sugar-Free Gum. Chew sugar-free gum with the ADA Seal. Xylitol is the best option because the cavity-causing bacteria cannot metabolize it to grow and produce acid.
- Fresh Fruit. Choosing fresh fruit over dried fruit gives your saliva a chance to dilute the sugar content. Also, fresh fruit is less likely to adhere to your teeth.
- Water. We all know the benefits of drinking enough water every day. When you consider substituting water for high-sugar/high-acid carbonated soft drinks, you also save your teeth.
- Sugar-Free Peanut Butter and Jelly. Choosing sugar-free peanut butter and jelly will help lower your cavity risk.
Avoiding food that can hurt your teeth and making smarter choices, along with good oral hygiene and regular dental visits at Nirvana Dental, will give you a lifetime of strong and healthy teeth.