You probably remember your mom telling you not to eat sugar before bed because it’s bad for your teeth. But why is this the case, and are there truly foods that are bad for your teeth? Can your diet result in a better smile?
Some foods, even healthy ones, can damage tooth enamel and cause decay. Usually, though, these issues occur when foods are eaten in excess and left in the mouth for a long time (like eating sugar before bed). “It’s when we excessively use one thing that can become a problem,” says Matthew Messina, dentist and spokesman for the American Dental Association in an article on Health.com.
Preventative dentistry is smart, and it’s not just going to the dentist for a cleaning that leads to a healthy mouth. You can practice preventive dentistry through home care and eating well. For instance, here are some foods to eat in moderation for healthy teeth and gums:
Coffee and tea – Coffee and tea are not as bad as some other foods and drinks, but they are worth mentioning. Too much coffee or tea can lead to tooth stains. Also, many people add sugar to their coffee and tea, which can lead to decay, especially for those who sip all day. Mouthhealthy.org recommends drinking plenty of water with these drinks to keep the mouth clean and hydrated.
Citrus – Lemon and grapefruit can be rough on teeth; the juice is very acidic and can erode enamel. The good news is that store-bought juice is also fortified with calcium and vitamin D, both of which are good for teeth. Orange juice has less acid than grapefruit juice, so it may be the better choice if you need your citrus fix.
Soda and sports drinks – For a lot of reasons, soda should not be a major part of your diet. The sugar is bad for your teeth and can lead to decay, and the acid in soda can also harm your teeth by eroding enamel. Sports drinks have similar effects; the tooth enamel can be compromised because of their acidity. If you can’t go without, drink them with a meal so the acids are partially neutralized by the food. Water is your best bet, it’s healthier all around.
Dried fruit – As healthy as dried fruit can be, the stickiness factor is not friendly to your teeth. Because sticky foods tend to stay on your teeth longer than non-sticky foods, they can cause decay. So go ahead and eat your raisins and dried figs, but make sure to brush afterward and rinse well with water.
Why is enamel erosion dangerous?
Most people know that decay can lead to cavities, but what about enamel erosion? When the enamel erodes, teeth can become discolored and sensitive. Demineralization can occur, according to colgate.com, and this can lead to decay over time.
See your dentist
Along with your at home dental care, make sure to see your family dentist for a dental cleaning twice a year. Effective family dental care is important for avoiding problems down the road. Watkin Dental Associates will help you keep your smile healthy! Please contact us for more information.