What are some of the worst types of foods and drinks for oral health?
What you choose to eat and drink has a large impact on the state of your oral health. Even otherwise healthy foods, like tomatoes, can possibly have a negative effect on the health of your teeth. Indeed, sugars and acids in food and drinks are among the most prominent causes of oral health problems such as tooth decay or gingivitis. Foods that are sticky, hard, starchy, or dry out your mouth may also cause issues. What follows is a brief breakdown of the different forms of food and beverage that may contribute to declining oral health as well as some examples from each category. It is always important to keep in mind the positives and negatives of foods and drinks and their respective impact for oral health.
High Sugar Content
o Sugars are one of the first sources of cavity formation in your mouth. Many bacteria feed on sugar in your mouth allowing them to generate acids. An area worn away by exposure to acid may result in a cavity. It is important to limit your amount of sugar intake in your daily diet for both general health and oral health specifically. Brushing your teeth after meals and drinking plenty of water helps to keep sugars from lingering in your mouth.
o Examples: Soft Drinks, Sports Drinks, Hard Candy, Dried Fruits
Acidic Food and Drinks
o Repeated or habitual exposure to highly acidic food and drinks, those with low pH ratings, can be detrimental to your oral health. Acid, whether it comes from acidic food or caused by sugars being converted by bacteria, can also cause your tooth enamel to decay.
o Examples: Citrus Fruits, Tomatoes, Pickles, Wine, Coffee
o Foods that can stick to and become wedged between your teeth are a major contributor to poor oral health, particularly if these foods remain stuck for long periods of time. When these foods linger around, bacteria is able to feed off of it and produce more enamel eroding acid than usual. It is important to brush your teeth and floss after eating sticky food to keep this from happening. Mechanically removing the food debris with a brush or floss after consuming sticky foods is an excellent way to mitigate this problem.
o Example: Soft Candy, Caramel
o When eating hard food, you run the risk of damaging your enamel and chipping your teeth. Although enamel is the hardest part of your body, it is not built for you to constantly break apart and chew hard foods. If you experience a painful break or chip it’s always ideal to seek out an oral health professional as soon as possible to prevent further cracks or breakage. Ice is a very common culprit in causing unintended damage to teeth.
o Examples: Ice, Hard Candy, Unpopped Popcorn Kernels
o Starches are rarely the first category of consumable that is considered potentially damaging to enamel or oral health. Many starchy foods easily become stuck between your teeth, and while in your mouth these starches begin converting into sugars through the pre-digestive process.
o Examples: Potato Chips, White Bread
Food and Drinks that Dry Out your Mouth
o When it comes to oral health defense, saliva is the best natural weapon in your body. Saliva helps to wash away plaque and prevents food from getting stuck in your teeth. Some food and drinks tend to dry out your mouth and limit the amount of saliva you have. It is important to watch out for food and drinks that do this, and to use mouthwash that helps to eliminate* dry mouth, such as SmartMouth Dry Mouth Relief Oral Rinse.
o Examples: Coffee, Alcoholic beverages