Everyone knows that eating a lot of sticky, sugary foods can damage your teeth and cause cavities. What may surprise you is that there are other types of foods and beverages, many of them considered healthy, that can also damage your teeth. Here is a list of four surprising dental destroyers, as well as what you can do to protect your pearly whites:
1. Starchy Foods
Starches are a form of sugar, and they provide fuel for the plaque and bacteria that coat your teeth. When you eat starchy foods they leave a residue on your teeth. Oral bacteria cling to that residue and proliferate there. Over time, iff you don't brush well after eating starchy foods, you can end up with nasty cavities and gum disease. Starchy foods include potatoes and root vegetables, breads and pasta, whole grains, and rice.
2. Acidic Foods
Next to bacteria, acids are like kryptonite to your teeth. Just like oral bacteria that cling to the residue on your teeth, acids can sit on your teeth and eat through the enamel, making you more vulnerable to cavities. Acids can also etch the enamel, making it more prone to staining. Acidic foods include fresh fruits and fruit juices, carbonated soft drinks (even sugarless), tomatoes, wine, and vinegar.
3. Hard Foods
Hard foods can crack and chip the enamel on your teeth, making them more prone to decay. Hard foods can also crack and chip existing fillings, giving bacteria a chance to infiltrate deeper into your teeth and reach the reach the roots, where they can do more damage. Hard foods include carrots, corn on the cob, hard candies (even sugarless), and ice cubes.
4. Sticky, Clingy Foods
Sticky or clingy foods are foods that get stuck on, in or between your teeth or gums. These foods linger long after you have eaten them (and sometimes after brushing) and they feed the bacteria that destroy your teeth. Sometimes you can tell that these foods are there, because they stain your teeth and are annoying; but other times they could hang out without you noticing. Flossing is usually required to remove these foods. Sticky or clingy foods include sticky and chewy candies or fruit snacks, meats, leafy greens, and corn kernels.
Protecting Your Teeth and Gums
The best way to protect your teeth and gums is to avoid these potentially damaging foods altogether. However, doing so would involve removing several enjoyable and beneficial foods from your diet. Since that could be both challenging and unhealthy, you are better off taking preventative measures by stepping up your dental hygiene to avoid any damage these foods might cause.
Preventative Measures to Protect Teeth
- Cut hard foods into bite-sized pieces
- Drink acidic beverages through a straw
- Cut corn-on-the-cob off the cob before eating
Improving Dental Hygiene
- Brush teeth or at least rinse your mouth with a fluoride mouthwash, or plain water, after you eat to remove any food residue
- Carry dental floss with you to remove any sticky or clingy foods from between your teeth
- Carry a tooth brush with you for some post-lunch maintenance.Make sure the brush has soft bristles, and avoid over brushing (which can also damage your tooth enamel and hurt gums)
You should do all of these things in addition to brushing your teeth in the morning and before bed, flossing regularly, and getting dental checkups every six months.