Everyone wants a beautiful, healthy smile, but did you know there’s more to having great-looking, healthy teeth than just brushing, flossing and having regular checkups? What you eat and drink matters too, and knowing which foods can damage your teeth is a good way to prevent cavities and discoloration.
Foods Bad for Your Teeth
Most of us know foods rich in calcium and vitamin D – like milk and cheese – are good for teeth, but what about foods bad for your teeth? There are quite a few, and some of them might surprise you.
Worst Foods for Teeth Health
When it comes to causing decay, candy and other sugary sweets top the list. That’s because the bacteria that cause tooth decay love sugar as much as you do – maybe more – and when you bathe your teeth in sugar, those bacteria grow and multiply. Plus, many sugary snacks contain ingredients that help sugars cling to the teeth surfaces, making decay much more likely. But as bad as these foods can be, they’re not alone. Here are six other culprits:
- Citrus fruits and juices: Citrus fruits are delicious and they’re packed with vitamin C – but they’re also high in acid, and acids soften the tooth enamel – sometimes for 30 to 45 minutes. That means it’s easier for sugars to penetrate teeth, leaving teeth more susceptible to damage.
- Coffee: Coffee is a well-known culprit when it comes to staining teeth, but what you might not know is that coffee (and red wine too) packs a one-two punch: First, it’s high in acids, and that means it’s very good at temporarily softening your tooth enamel. And second, it has lots of dark pigments, which means once your enamel is softened, those pigments can “soak in” to the top layers of your teeth and cause staining.
- Tomato sauce: Like coffee, tomato sauce packs that one-two punch, first softening your enamel so teeth and more susceptible to bacterial damage, and then discoloring teeth with its deep red pigments.
- Balsamic vinegar: Yes, it makes a tasty salad dressing, but the dark color of this vinegar means it’s more likely to stain than other acidic vinegars.
- Spices: Turmeric and curry powder top the list of spices most likely to stain, thanks to their deep yellow-amber pigments.
- Berries: Yes, they’re healthy for you, but the deep blue-black pigments of blueberries and blackberries (and the reds of raspberries) can cause significant stains, especially if you consume a lot of them on a regular basis.
Just because a food may have some negative consequences for your teeth, that doesn’t always mean you should avoid the food entirely. While some foods like super-sugary snacks offer no nutritive value, other foods like citrus fruits have lots of healthy benefits. Instead of avoiding them, try these tips to minimize the damage:
- Follow staining foods and beverages with a fresh apple, pear, carrots or celery to help remove stain particles.
- Drink coffee, tea, wine and other acidic beverages through a straw to minimize their contact with your teeth.
- Delay brushing for about 45 minutes after consuming acidic foods or drinks to allow your tooth enamel to “re-harden.” Brushing before then can increase enamel damage and make your teeth more prone to stains.
If stains or other damage does occur, we can help. Call Empire Dental today at 732-607-0909 and learn about all the solutions that can help you enjoy your best smile. We are consistently voted a top dentist in New Jersey 10 years running.