Are you taking time to think about the best and worst foods for your teeth? You may be brushing your teeth, flossing regularly and visiting your dentist twice a year, but are the foods you’re eating supporting a healthy smile?
While I advise doing that, the foods and drinks we consume also play a significant role in keeping our teeth in tip-top shape, too. Here are the best and worst foods for your teeth.
“Saltine crackers are worse than candy for your teeth because they’re a fermentable and highly processed starch,” Dr. Burhenne said. “Many people don’t realize that most crackers are highly processed and contain genetically engineered ingredients, essentially increasing the glycemic index and making the food more cariogenic (cavity-causing).”
Saltines and other similar crackers are terrible for our teeth. They break in little bits that don’t all disappear when you swallow, leaving lovely sticky goo for the bacteria to feast on long after you have stopped eating.
For that matter, ordinary sweet cookies are just as bad for our teeth.
2. Dried fruit (Sticky foods are your mouth’s worst nightmare)
If you’re eating dried fruit with your trail mix, you’re hurting your dental health. For starters, dry fruit — even those without added sugars — usually still have a high amount of the stuff. That’s bad because the harmful bacteria in our mouths feed on sugar. Eww. Adding insult to injury, dried fruits often get stuck in your teeth, inviting even more bacteria to the party. Your best bet? Skip the dried fruit and opt for the fresh stuff.
You never saw this one coming, I bet. Cough drops are a problem, not only because they are sweet, but because of the purpose for which you take them, they stay in your mouth longer than ordinary candy would.
“When it comes to cavity formation, the best sweets are the ones you eat all at once,” Dr. Burhenne said. “Sucking on a hard candy — or a cough drop — means the teeth are exposed to sugar and acids for a lot longer than if you just had a slice of cake that went down the hatch quickly.”
And neither could you have guised that grapefruit, a good source of vitamin C and a healthy breakfast favorite is one of the foods to avoid for healthy teeth.
As one of the most acidic fruits, grapefruit can damage tooth enamel because it literally dissolves it, said Dr. Burhenne, adding that when you pour acid on something, it leeches out the calcium. “
5. Diet Sodas
According to Dr. Burhenne, diet soda is actually way worse for our dental health than regular soda because it’s more acidic than regular soda. “When they take out the sugar, there’s some tartness that is lost, so they add phosphoric acid.” Phosophoric acid can also dissolve the calcium in the enamel of your teeth.
6. Not all coffee is good for you
Now this I and many thousands of coffee enthusiasts just don’t want to hear. “Tannic acids naturally found in coffee can do more damage to teeth than just unsightly stains.
The acids swirling around in your mouth from your morning cup of coffee can break down your tooth enamel, causing decay.
For us coffee lovers there is I, think, a solution. You could consider having a class of water with or after a cup of coffeer.
In their natural form, coffee and tea can be healthy beverage choices. Unfortunately too many people can’t resist adding sugar. Caffeinated coffee and tea can also dry out your mouth. Frequent drinks of coffee and tea may also stain your teeth. If you do consume, make sure to drink plenty of water and try to keep the add-ons to a minimum.
7. Acidic Foods
If you love a glass of orange juice in the morning or adding lime juice to your cocktail, I hate to break it to you, but you’re eroding your teeth enamel. The acids found in citrus breaks down the enamel, causing irreversible damage. Lemon juice and grapefruit juice seem to be the worst offenders, though, in one study, researchers found that orange juice decreased enamel hardness by 84 percent. If you can’t put down your favorite citrus drink, I recommend you enjoy it all quickly, instead of taking your time and giving the acids more time to connect with teeth, and then rinsing with water afterward.
The benefits of lemon water are vast, so instead of giving it up altogether, here are smarter ways to enjoy it:
*Don’t brush your teeth before drinking lemon water
*Dilute lemon juice well with water
*Use a paper or stainless steel reusable straw (no plastic)
*Rinse mouth out with baking soda mixed with water after drinking lemon water Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after drinking lemon water *Use remineralizing toothpaste
8. Limit alcohol consumption
Alcohol causes dehydration and dry mouth. People who drink excessively may find their saliva flow is reduced over time, which can lead to tooth decay and other oral infections such as gum disease. Heavy alcohol use also increases your risk for mouth cancer.
8. Bottled lemon iced teas
Particularly Nestea is very bad for teeth as it has a pH of 2.97, which is about the same as drinking a spoonful of vinegar. Check out this chart by Shelton Dentistry in Longhorn, Texas to find out which drinks are safe for your teeth – looks like a boring future though consisting of mainly milk, water, unsweetened/ decaffeinated tea, and coffee with creamer.
Beware of things that go “crunch”
Who doesn’t love the nice, satisfying crunch of a potato chip? Unfortunately potato chips are filled with starch, which tends to get trapped in your teeth. If you choose to indulge in snacks like these, take extra care when you floss that day to remove all the food particles that can lead to plaque build-up.
Here’s one more reason that, unless you’re a hard-core athlete, you should be skipping sports drinks. Like soda, sports drinks harbor sugar, with some containing up to 13 teaspoons, which eats away at teeth. (14) And although they might not seem like it initially, sports drinks are highly acidic; one study found that they’re even more acidic than soda, eroding teeth enamel. (15) Combined with the fact that most people don’t chug a sports drink, but drink it slowly over a period, and you’ve got a beverage that’s severely damaging to teeth.
Acid strikes again, this time in the form of a favorite sandwich topper. The vinegar in pickles, which gives them that sour flavor we love, also adds to its acidic content. One study of more than 2,300 students in the U.K. found that pickles wore teeth down more than any other food. (16) If you can’t give up pickles, eat them in one sitting instead of casually munching on them, and rinse your mouth afterward.
Best Foods for Your Teeth
Perhaps the most dippable veggie, celery is a dentist’s dream. Celery, along with other crunchy foods, forces you to chew more to eat it, in turn producing more saliva. Saliva production is a big deal, because saliva acts as the bloodstream of your mouth, keeping the tissues healthy. It also functions as your personal mouthwash, getting rid of food particles in teeth and gums and helping to fight cavities. (3)
One of the benefits of celery involves its rough texture; it does double duty by lightly cleaning the tooth’s surface while you chew. Don’t love celery? Carrots, cucumbers and other crunchy vegetables also do the trick.
A giant jar of coconut oil is something you want to have around the house. Aside from cooking, moisturizing and the 70-plus other coconut oil uses, it’s super useful for maintaining your dental health. Swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 10 to 20 minutes draws out the toxins that collect in your mouth, helping to prevent tooth decay and create a clean environment where bacteria can’t thrive.
While oil pulling with coconut oil isn’t mainstream (yet!), researchers are finally taking note. One study found that after just seven days of oil pulling, participants experienced a statistically significant decrease in plaque and plaque-induced gingivitis. (5) Over the 30-day study, the amount of plaque continued decreasing, leading researchers to conclude that oil pulling is effective in reducing plaque formation and gingivitis. Another review found that, based on current research, oil pulling can be used alongside traditional oral health maintenance, like brushing and flossing, with positive results. (6)