All sodas contain phosphoric and citric acids that erode enamel. Choose water instead. Skimmed milk is better than sports drinks that contain loads of sugars, acids and additives. Drink fortified orange juice instead of eating citrus fruits that contain harmful citric acid. Sip on black or green tea instead of red wine, that contains tannins which can easily stain your teeth.
Our teeth are a critical part of our day to day lives. Imagine what it would be like without a mouthful of incisors, canines and molars. Your diet would be fairly limited, but that could be a good thing depending on what you currently eat.
The dentists keep advising on which foods to avoid and why it is so important to make changes to your diet. When it comes to your teeth, the damage adds up over time. Changing your eating habits sooner rather than later can also help preserve repairs that have already been made, which means less cost down the road.
Foods That Damage Your Teeth And Some Healthy Alternatives
1. Carbonated Sodas
Soda has been getting a lot of attention these days for being one of the least healthy beverages a person can consume. Regular sodas have tons of sugar that can eat away at teeth, but even diet soda can do damage. All sodas contain phosphoric and citric acid that erodes enamel.
The Better Option – Flavored Water
It is best to stick with still water that is flavored with a sugar-free sweetener. Even unsweetened carbonated water can still contain carbonic acid, which is not good for enamel.
2. Sports Drinks
What is the one drink that will harm your enamel more than soda? Sports drinks. Studies have shown that the combination of sugars, acids and additives in sports drinks make them very bad for your teeth. Not only do sports drinks erode enamel, but they can also soften the dentin tissue under enamel.
The Better Option – Water Followed By Skim Milk
To rehydrate, reach for electrolyte infused water or plain water. Skim milk is also a great option for helping muscles recover while giving your teeth a healthy dose of calcium.
3. Hard Candies
Jawbreakers should have been named teeth breakers. Hard candies are full of cavity-producing sugar, but it is their rock solid structure that makes them particularly bad.
Biting down on hard candy can easily chip and break teeth, which can quickly cause major problems. If you suck on hard candies, it is just as bad because it gives bacteria time to produce acids.
The Better Option – Crunchy Fruits
If you like a little crunch along with sweetness, switch out hard candies for fruits like apples and pears. They are still crunchy without overpowering the strength of your teeth.
4. Sticky Candies
Chewy, sticky candies like saltwater taffy can pull a crown or filling loose, but more concerning is the fact that they stick around between your teeth long after they have been eaten. Sticky sweets that are stuck between teeth feed bacteria until you brush and floss.
The Better Option – Soft Fruits
When your sweet tooth can not be contained, the best option is soft fruits like bananas and blueberries. Just remember to brush right after eating highly pigmented fruits that could otherwise stain your teeth.
5. Dried Fruit
They may seem healthy, but most dried fruits are loaded with sugar. Worse still is the fact that they are usually sticky.
The Better Option – Fresh Fruits
Eating fresh fruits will help you avoid the spike in sugar and stickiness of dried fruits.
6. Citrus Fruits And Juices
Yes, the vitamins in citrus fruits provide amazing health benefits – everywhere, but not in your teeth. Lemons, limes, grapefruit and other citruses are very acidic. These acids can quickly erode enamel.
The Better Option: Fortified Orange Juice
Orange juice has been found to be the least acidic of the citrus fruits, and when it is fortified with vitamin D and calcium it is actually very good for your teeth.
7. Pickles And Pickled Foods
Like citric acid, the acids in vinegar (which is used in the pickling process) can quickly wear down enamel. Eating a lot of pickles can also stain your teeth.
The Better Option: Limit Consumption And Combine With Water
Pickled veggies can be a good source of nutrients without a lot of calories. However, they need to be limited, and to avoid serious enamel damage you will need to drink a lot of water to wash the acids down. It is also best to brush your teeth right after eating.
The tannins in red wine may be a healthy antioxidant that fights free radicals in the body, but they can easily stain your teeth. Both white and red wine also contain erosive acid that is so strong that it can soften enamel in as little as five minutes. The alcohol in wine can also cause dry mouth.
The Better Option: Black Or Green Tea
If you want something to sip on during dinner or afterwards, reach for tea instead. The polyphenols in green and black tea will actually kill the bacteria that causes plaque.
9. Refined Carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates (white breads, crackers, chips, etc.) may not directly harm your teeth, but they can cause gum diseases like gingivitis. This is because refined carbohydrates can create inflammation in the tissue around your teeth. Starchy refined carbs also convert into sugar once you start chewing.
The Better Option: Whole Grains
Eating whole grains is the healthier option all around. They actually lower the risk of tooth loss, gum disease and chronic illness, unlike refined carbs.
To break yourself of eating habits that wreak havoc on your teeth, it may be helpful to keep a food diary.