It can be tough keeping track of what your family eats. It’s even harder to know what your family should be eating to stay healthy. It seems every morning show has a new study showing this is bad, that is good, and this used to be good but is now very, very bad. How’s a parent to know what to do?
Stick with what research consistently says. If a new report says people shouldn’t exercise to lose weight, but study after study shows the benefits of exercising, go ahead and hit the gym. The more research backs one idea, the more likely that idea is a good one.
The same is true for keeping your family’s teeth healthy. New research comes out all the time, but here are several foods and drinks that have consistently been shown to be bad for your teeth. To avoid problems like cavities, gingivitis, and even tooth removal, be very careful about these foods and drinks.
Soda (regular AND diet): Anything that has as much sugar as a can of regular soda is obviously bad for your teeth. Lots of sodas contain caramel and fructose, which is sugar that coats and sticks to your teeth. But even though diet soda doesn’t have sugar, all soda is high in acidity. All of that acid can erode your enamel, making cavities that much more likely.
Ice: Some people like to chew on ice, especially in the summer. Unfortunately, ice is so hard that chewing it can damage your teeth. The chance of an ice cube cracking a tooth is small, but chewing ice wears down the enamel on your teeth. Over time, this could lead to heat/cold sensitivity and cavities. It can also injure your gums.
Fruit juice: Juices are definitely more healthy than soda, and they should be a part of your family’s diet. But keep in mind that even completely natural juices have a lot of sugar. Some processed juices have added sugar, making them at least as bad for your teeth as soda. Plus, juices like orange juice are very acidic and can irritate your gums.
Coffee and tea: Both are great drinks in the morning or afternoon, but they both slowly stain your teeth over time, turning your pearly whites into a dark, brown-yellow color. Worse, most coffee drinks you get at a coffee shop are basically milkshakes with a little coffee thrown in. They have so much sugar in them, they’re as bad for your teeth as any can of soda.
Alcohol: The main problem with alcoholic drinks is that they dry out your mouth. After a few drinks, your mouth doesn’t produce much saliva, which you need to help wash away tiny particles of food or drink from your teeth and gums. But as with coffee, alcoholic drinks like daiquiris have so much sugar that they’re very bad for your teeth. And if you’re enjoying a dark drink like red wine, you could be staining your teeth.
Sports drinks: Most sports drinks like Gatorade are designed to be drunk only after you’ve spent a ton of calories and sweated like crazy after exercise. That’s why the average sports drink is full of carbohydrates, which is really just another form of sugar. They might not taste as sweet as soda or juice, but they can still do the same damage to your teeth.
Tomato sauce: Believe it or not, that jar of tomato sauce you put on your pasta is a triple threat to your teeth. First, as you know if you’ve ever spilled it on your shirt, tomato sauce is dark and can easily stain your teeth like coffee, requiring cosmetic dentistry to get back the original color. Second, the high acidity in tomatoes can irritate your gums and weaken your enamel. And third, most commercial sauces have a lot of sugar in them. Once again, sugar is a problem.
Popcorn: Although popcorn is often touted as a healthy food, you still need to be careful when eating it. Bits of popcorn can easily get stuck between your teeth, which is where harmful bacteria love to hide. They can eat the tiny parts of popcorn stuck there, increasing your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. But there’s always a chance at eating an unpopped kernel, which is so hard that it can damage your teeth.
As you can see, the biggest concern is sugar and carbs. The bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease thrive off that stuff. The more sugar you eat and drink, the more that gets caught on and around your teeth — and the worse your dental health will get.
Always drink regular unflavored water to help keep your teeth clean, and be sure to get your family to brush and floss regularly. If you have any questions about why these foods can hurt your teeth, or to schedule your next appointment at our Leesburg dental office, call us today at 703-297-4353 or contact us now!