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    • 12 JUL 18
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    Safeguard Your Teeth by Avoiding These Foods & Snacks

    Close up view of a mouth that has sprinkles on the lips and a person about to chew on a cheeseball snack.

    A cold soda on a hot day or a few pieces of candy for dessert may satisfy your cravings, but sugary drinks and snacks don’t do any favors for your smile. While brushing and flossing twice a day helps stave off tooth decay and gum disease, it’s best to avoid the very worst foods out there. If you’re willing to alter your diet to enjoy stronger tooth enamel, try skipping over these 10 tooth-threatening drinks and snacks.

     

    What You Eat Affects Your Teeth

    Many people think about their weight and how their food and snacking will affect it. However, not enough people give thought to how food and drinks may be damaging their teeth. What you eat can say a lot about not only your overall wellness, but your oral health as well. If you think about it, everything you eat has to pass by your teeth. If you snack all throughout the day, then your teeth are being exposed to different substances all day long.

     

    That is why the American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth at least twice a day. This is to get rid of all the plaque and other substances that your teeth have come in contact with throughout the day. Everytime you eat and drink, you get small layers of food sticking to your teeth. Brushing several times a day and flossing can remove those layers of gunk off your teeth continually. Why is this important?

     

    Woman smiling towards the camera as she goes to eat an apple.

    Sugar and Snacking

    One of the main things we want to focus on with your food is sugar. Did you know that the body doesn’t need a lot of sugar to function normally? Your body only needs a minimal amount of sugar, and it should only be getting that sugar from natural sources such as fruit. However, added sugars are popping up in almost every food you can buy off the supermarket shelves. Added sugars have no nutritional value for your body, which is why eating so much sugar can lead to problems such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and more. It’s no less harmful to your teeth.

     

    When you eat, sugars in your food mixes with bacteria in the mouth. Some bacteria is there to help you digest food, while others mix with sugar to create plaque. Plaque is that sticky, clear substance that coats your teeth and plaque can get thicker and thicker the longer you go without brushing and flossing. What’s worse is that plaque is acidic in nature. Because of this, acidic plaque starts to erode your tooth enamel, weakening it until there are tiny cracks in your tooth surfaces. That is how you get surface cavities. When plaque gets in through the cracks in your enamel, you get large cavities.

     

    All of those cavities (also known as tooth decay) starts from what you eat. The more sugar you eat, the more plaque your mouth makes, and the more likely you are to have cavities. When you snack all day long, you expose your teeth to sugar and plaque constantly, as most snacks contain sugar. All of these facts are the reasons why you should avoid added sugars in your diet as much as possible as well as snacking all day long.

     

    Foods to Avoid

    Besides sugary sweet treats, you should avoid these common foods that damage your tooth enamel:

    • Ice: Too many people chew on ice, which leads to tooth cracks, fractures and breaks. Suck on ice only, never chew it.
    • Hard Candies and Suckers: when you suck on hard candies, your teeth are exposed to sugar for long amounts of time.
    • Mints and sugary gum: These also expose you to sugar for long periods.
    • Citrus Fruits: Citrus contains citric acid, which erodes tooth enamel.
    • Dark Fruits/Dyes: Foods that are dark or contain dyes will change your tooth color over time. Blueberries and blackberries are an example.
    • Sticky Foods: Think caramels, taffy, gummies, dried fruit and foods that are similar. These stick to your teeth (especially in-between them) and are harder to clean off.
    • Chips: Chips and other crunchy snacks contain starch, which breaks down into sugar. They also get stuck between your teeth, which can leave your teeth open to decay, especially if you don’t floss the recommended 1-2 times a day.

     

    Close-up view of a male eating a carrot and smiling.

    What You Drink Matters

    Some people may think they are in the clear if they simply eat better foods and snack less. However, you could be causing more damage by what you’re drinking than what you are eating. Drinks that hurt your teeth include:

    • Coffee: Most coffee drinkers add lots of sugar to their drinks, which can damage teeth.
    • Tea: Like coffee, tea can also dry out your mouth. The less saliva you have, the less your teeth can get minerals from foods and drinks they need to stay strong. Dry mouth leads to a higher risk of tooth decay as well.
    • Citrus and Sports Drinks: Just like citrus fruits, juices contain acids, especially if they are citric drinks. These also tend to contain high amounts of sugar. Choose sugar-free drink sweeteners instead of citrus juices.
    • Energy Drinks: High amounts of caffeine lead to dry mouth, while the sugar content can lead to tooth decay.
    • Sodas and Caffeinated Drinks: Again, watch out for added sugars. Some sodas have several candy bars’ worth of sugar in them. All drinks with carbonation also contain carbonic acid, which is how drinks get those fizzy bubbles. That acid will erode your tooth enamel.
    • Alcohol: Leads to nerve damage, mouth cancer and dry mouth, all of which you want to avoid.

     

    Healthy Teeth, Healthy Life

    Even if you absolutely have to have some of the foods or drinks on this list, simply try reducing how often you have them. Any positive step towards better eating will help your oral health at the same time. For more about foods and drinks to avoid and ways to strengthen and protect your teeth, call Evanson DDS at (720) 409-0008!

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