By Nathan White, DMD
It’s no surprise that the food we eat every day plays a big role in our dental health. However, some popular foods that appear harmless and even healthy on the surface can actually cause significant damage to your teeth.
To maintain your smile, be cautious when eating these seven foods:
- Citrus fruit. While high in beneficial vitamin C and antioxidants, citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, limes and lemons, are extremely acidic and can wear down the enamel of your teeth. It is best to limit your teeth’s exposure to these foods — once the enamel is gone, it cannot be replaced. Citrus fruit juice is an even bigger threat to your teeth. The combination of citric acid and sugar is a double whammy for dental decay.
- Candy. Hard and soft candy are both no-go’s when it comes to dental health. Hard candy can crack teeth, and soft, sticky candy can get stuck between the teeth. Harmful bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar, so eating sugary foods can lead to plaque buildup and decay.
- Coffee. We’ve all heard this one. Coffee not only stains your teeth, but the acidity also deteriorates enamel. Tannic acids found in coffee also decrease saliva production and contribute to a dry mouth.
- Wine. Like coffee, red wine also has tannic acid. A dry mouth causes bad breath, and a lack of saliva also contributes to the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth. Saliva washes away the bacteria that cause cavities. White wine isn’t necessarily a better option — it’s more acidic than red, and all alcoholic beverages dry out the mouth.
- Bread. While it might seem harmless, bread can create a big problem for your teeth. The starch found in bread and other carbohydrates is converted to sugar in the mouth. If bread gets stuck in the teeth, harmful bacteria build up into plaque and cause tooth decay.
- Soda. Like fruit juice, soda has citric acid and sugar — a terrible combination for your teeth.Soda also contains phosphoric acid, which is highly corrosive to the teeth. To get an idea of just how erosive it is: phosphoric acid is also used in fertilizer and metal polish. Even small amounts can erode your teeth’s enamel.
- Dried fruit. Although fruit in any form seems like a healthy snack, it’s best to avoid the dried variety. Dried fruit is high in sugar and can easily become lodged between the teeth, which promotes bacteria buildup.
While completely eliminating these foods from your diet may not be realistic, be sure to take care of your teeth after consuming them. You may be tempted to immediately reach for your toothbrush and floss, but it is best to drink water and wait about 30 minutes before brushing the teeth. Brushing immediately after eating acidic foods can cause further damage to the enamel. Limit these foods, drink plenty of water, and visit your dentist regularly so you don’t experience any cavities and decay!