6 Foods to Avoid for Better Dental Health
Hard Candy & Cough Drops
While it’s juicy, sweet and always fun to eat, hard candy is a food that you should avoid eating at all costs! This is because it’s damaging to your teeth in two ways.
First, many people bite down on hard candy as it dissolves, working it into smaller bites. As you’re doing this, you can actually crack or break your tooth. It also sticks to dental works like nobody’s business and can damage fillings or crowns.
Second, it promotes tooth decay. As the candy dissolves, the sugar molecules settle into the pockets of your gums and onto your teeth. This sugar harbors bacteria and causes plaque to begin forming within minutes of consumption.
If you do enjoy an occasional piece or hard candy or cough drop, let it dissolve on its own without you chewing it. After it has dissolved brush your teeth, rinse your mouth, or eat and apple or carrot to prevent the formation of plaque.
Soda & Sugary Drinks
I’m indiscriminately lumping soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks all into one category of foods to avoid for better dental health. I will concede that they are not foods, they’re beverages. However, I don’t sway from the scientific evidence that they cause tooth decay.
These beverages are delicious. Why are they so good? Because they are laced with exorbitant amounts of sugar or sugar substitutes to give them that craveable flavor!
The sugar coats your teeth and begins the process of tooth decay very quickly. My advice is to make water your drink of choice with sugary drinks becoming an occasional treat.
Adding acidic fruits to this list is a double-edged sword because these fruits are super-charged with vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants that your body requires. Indeed, these fruits are great snacks from a nutritional standpoint.
However, the acidity of these fruits can cause the minerals that make up the enamel of your teeth to erode. These fruits include tomatoes, oranges, grapefruit, lime, and lemons.
I won’t recommend that you skip healthy fruits altogether; however, I will advise you to brush and floss after enjoying these fruits.
There’s nothing more enticing-smelling than fresh-popped and buttery popcorn! While it’s not a total no-go, it’s a cautionary tale from a dental standpoint. We’ve all experienced it. You eat popcorn, then you can feel bits of the hull sticking between your teeth or lodged into your gums. If you don’t remove it promptly with through flossing, this left-behind popcorn can cause swelling and infection of the gums.
In addition, biting down to break down the kernel causes cracks in your natural teeth, dentures, or restorative work. If you can skip the popcorn, that’s your best option. If you’re truly a popcorn addict, eat popcorn carefully and promptly floss when you’ve finished enjoying it.
Again, I’m adding an item that’s not technically a food.Here’s what I’ll say about ice. It’s not a food, so please stop eating it! It’s one of the top foods to send you calling the dentist for an emergency appointment. The water molecules form so tightly during the freezing process, that ice is very dense. Please allow it to cool your water and don’t snack on it after the drink is gone!
While no candy is healthy, sticky candies like caramel or saltwater taffy wreak havoc on your teeth. As you’ve read, sugar contributes to tooth decay. But while you might think that these soft candies won’t cause tooth damage, think again! The stickier, gooier, and yummier the taffy is, the more likely you are to have damage. These very sticky treats can adhere to, and ultimately pull out, fillings, orthodontic works, sealants, or bridges. Avoid these treats at all costs!
These foods are damaging to your teeth in one fashion or another. That doesn’t mean that you can never enjoy them again. As with all things, the key is in moderation and in taking precaution when enjoying them. As always, the dentist’s best advice is to brush and floss twice a day and use common sense when partaking of these foods.
Dr. Holly Gregory is a board-certified dentist. A resident of Humble, TX, she enjoys treating her patients and helping them enjoy their smiles. When she’s not practicing dentistry, Dr. Gregory spends time at home with her family.