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It’s pretty obvious that most people are aware that sugary, sticky candies are bad for your teeth and that carbonated beverages also can cause damage to your teeth. But there are some foods and drinks that are bad for your oral health that may be a surprise to you. These troublesome foods include some types of fruit—often thought of as healthy choices—and a staple for sandwiches and toast, bread, that on the surface seems harmless to your teeth. So here’s a look at 5 foods that may surprise your patients by making the naughty list when it comes to harming their teeth
Toast is a main part of many breakfasts and also it’s hard to make a good sandwich without a couple slices of bread. Many diets designed to lose weight suggest cutting down on bread and other highly refined grains. But doing so can also help your teeth. Here’s why: When you chew bread, your saliva breaks down the starches into sugar, and so it’s transformed into a gummy substance that sticks to the crevices between teeth. This can lead to cavities, so you should aim for less-refined varieties like whole wheat. These contain less added sugars, aren’t as easily broken down, and therefore can help cut down on both calories and damage to your teeth.
2. Dried Fruits
Most dried fruits are full of healthy nutrients and also contain more fiber and antioxidants than fresh fruit, which is why they’re considered a healthy snack. But many dried fruits such as apricots, prunes, figs, and raisins are sticky, so they can cause the same problems with teeth as bread. These dried fruits get stuck and cling in teeth and their crevices, leaving behind plenty of troublesome sugar. For those who often snack on these dried fruits, remember to rinse your mouth regularly with water — don’t forget the regular brushing and flossing—and consider mixing in some fresh fruit once in a while in place of the sticky dried fruits
Speaking of fresh fruits, who doesn’t enjoy a tasty orange or lemon as a snack and/or in a glass of juice? These fruits, along with grapefruits, are loaded with Vitamin C so the health benefits of fresh fruit are often discussed. But these fruits and juices come with acid content that can erode your enamel and make your teeth more susceptible to cavities. Additionally, the citric acid can be painful if you have mouth sores. Rinsing with water after consuming fresh citrus fruits is beneficial in the same way it is with dried fruits.
Everything in moderation, especially alcohol consumption. We know too much alcohol is not a healthy thing, but did you know it’s also bad for your teeth? Consuming alcohol dries out your mouth and a dry mouth does not have as much saliva. Saliva is needed to protect your teeth from sticky foods and also helps wash away food particles. Saliva also is known to help fend off gum disease and other oral infections. So to combat dry mouth brought on by alcohol consumption—as well as some medication side effects—remember to drink plenty of water and to consider the use of oral hydration solutions.
5. Potato chips
When it comes to this guilty snack pleasure, it’s hard to eat just one (or even just a few). Crunching and tasting a potato chip can make many smile, but too many chips can harm that smile. Similar to bread, this food is loaded with starch, which becomes sugar that can get stuck in and between your teeth and feed the bacteria in the plaque. The acid production from the chips can linger and last awhile, which can lead to problems in the mouth. So again, it’s good to remember the basic action to fight off decay—floss to remove the trapped particles after enjoying some tasty potato chips.