We all remember when we were kids and the grownups told us that candy was bad for our teeth. They suggested we eat fruit instead, and some people even gave out apples on Halloween. We know they were right the whole time, but aside from candy, what other foods and drinks are bad for our teeth, and why?
Hard candies more than most other candies are on this list because while they carry the same dangers as other sugary things, trying to crunch them could lead to a tooth chipping or breaking, or some other dental emergency.
Citrus is packed with vitamin C and is certainly good for you, but at the same time it’s still acid. Acid can break down your tooth enamel and increase the likelihood of decay. It’s still fine to eat them, but having them at every meal for every day may not be a good idea.
Gummy or sticky things
This includes gummy candies, but also dried fruit, which in other ways can be a healthy snack choice. Apart from the sugar, their danger to your teeth is that because they are sticky, bits of them are more likely to cling to the teeth for longer periods and the sugar in them will continue to damage your teeth.
Potato or corn chips are already not the healthiest thing for you, but they pose a risk to your dental health as well. They crunch up into small pieces that get stuck in crevices and can help grow bacteria and build plaque.
Many people chew ice just out of habit. To many people it just feels good and seems like a perfectly normal thing to do. But chewing anything that hard is dangerous to your teeth for the same reasons as with hard candy. It can damage enamel and may even cause a break. If you still feel the urge, consider talking to a doctor, because it may be a sign of iron deficiency.
Coffee and tea
These are fine in moderate amounts, and some teas even have health benefits. But taking them with sugar is an easy way to increase your sugar intake almost without knowing it. These drinks can also cause staining, and may lead some people to brush too hard, damaging the enamel.
Soda and energy drinks
Soda is on this list because it is so high in sugar. A 12 oz can might have more than 9 teaspoons of sugar in it. All sugar is dangerous to your teeth because it feeds the bacteria that form plaque, but carbonated drinks like these are also acidic, so they do extra damage.
Granola and protein bars are often really healthy for the rest of the body, but the danger here is the same as with chips: that small pieces will get stuck in corners and crevices and help bacteria grow. But many of these snacks also have dried fruit in them, so there is also the danger of the gummy parts sticking.
Bread and other things made from refined wheat pose some risk too. The more refined the flour is, the more easily your mouth breaks the starches down into sugars. And because soft white bread gets so mushy when chewed, bits of it can also stick in places and feed sugar to the bacteria in plaque.
Alcohol is sugary and acidic so it has the same dangers as soda. But on top of that it also reduces how much saliva your mouth produces. Saliva plays host to beneficial bacteria that keep your teeth healthy. Reducing saliva too much risks tooth decay. On more reason to drink responsibly!
So What Can I Eat?
Obviously, no one is telling you never to eat or drink these things (except for the ice). Alcohol is a nice part of socializing with friends, and you can make chips and granola and so on safer by flossing carefully afterwards. This is just to give you an idea of which things are riskier, and hopefully give you some idea of how you can improve your oral health.
For more information on how food and drinks affect dental health, or for any other dental concerns, feel free to call Apple Valley Dental Group at 540-635-2493 or get in touch online.