For most of us, when buying groceries at a grocery store, the things we bother to think about are the price, the expiration date and calories within each box of cookies. But there is one additional problem that is usually ignored. Will this food harm my teeth? As it turns out, the foods you eat directly affect the health of your teeth. Luckily, Dr. Jaleel and her team are here to help. We’re about to dive into 5 of the worst foods for your smile, followed 5 of the best:
Foods that Destroy Your Teeth
Citrus fruit is highly acidic and it will erode tooth enamel over time. Grapefruit and lemon juice, due to their high acid content, are the worst for your teeth. To avoid enamel damage, brush your teeth 30 minutes after eating citrus fruits.
Chewy candy contains sugar that sticks to teeth and allows bacteria to grow. Since mouth bacteria burns sugar to make acid, it dissolves tooth enamel along with the sugar and causes cavities. Sour candy is even worse because it includes extra acid that further erodes tooth enamel.
Pickles are made from combining vinegar with cucumbers. The acid in the vinegar gives pickles a sour, salty taste, but breaks down tooth enamel. Eating pickles more than once a day increases the odds of tooth decay by 85%.
Soda contains sugars and carbonation, which combine together to break down tooth enamel even more than sugar alone. Even sugar-free sodas contain citric and phosphoric acid, which do damage to teeth. If you love soda, it helps to drink it along with food. Your food neutralizes the acid and scrubs off the sugar from the soda so it doesn’t damage teeth quite as badly.
Wine causes teeth staining because it contains chromogens, which are pigments that discolor teeth. Wine also contains tannins, which dry the mouth out and make teeth sticky, which can make the stains worse.
Foods that Clean Your Teeth
Sugarless gum stimulates the production of saliva, which washes away acids. Your saliva also contains calcium and phosphate, which strengthen teeth. Mint flavored gum is the most effective because it doesn’t contain as much acid as fruit flavored gum. Plus it leaves the teeth with a clean feeling and freshens breath.
Water, like saliva, washes sugars and acids off teeth. Most water sources are also fortified with fluoride, which protects against tooth decay.
Dairy products contain calcium, which strengthens your teeth and bones. Most dairy products, especially cheese, contain casein, which is a protein that works along with calcium to stabilize and repair tooth enamel.
Leafy vegetables contain a high amount of fiber, which promotes good digestion for the same reason it helps with tooth health—it requires a lot of effort to break down. You have to do a lot of chewing to eat a bowl of spinach or celery, which is like a deep cleaning for your teeth. The chewing also stimulates saliva.
Strawberries contain a natural enamel whitener called malic acid. Get as much as you can of this natural tooth whitener while it’s in season. Watch out for the seeds though; they can get stuck between your teeth and cause gum swelling.
If you are lactose intolerant or want alternatives to some of the food listed here, feel free to give us a call and book an appointment with Dr. Jaleel, your Ottawa dentist. She will be happy to address your concerns and provide you with a list of alternatives. We’re conveniently located across Carlingwood Shopping Centre at the Fairlawn Dental Clinic.
2194 Carling Avenue, Unit 1
Ottawa, ON K2A 1H3
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