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6 Foods That Are Bad for Your Teeth

foods bad for teeth enamel


Although you may not consider a visit to the dentist to be a form of immediate health care that you need, oral health can affect the health of your whole body. When it comes to taking care of your teeth, some foods bad for teeth enamel may suprise you. In fact, your diet can have the largest impact on your oral health, even if you are brushing and flossing twice every day. So, before heading to your local bakery to pick up some donuts for breakfast, here are six foods bad for teeth enamel that you need to know about.

1. Citrus Fruits

Many people love citrus fruits, whether in the form of juice or a lime squeezed over a taco. However, when it comes to foods bad for teeth enamel, citrus can be one of the worst. Although citrus fruits can have a lot of good properties, such as supplying vitamin C to your diet, problems can arise when you have too much of a good thing.

Eating citrus fruit or drinking citrus juices too often can cause trouble as your teeth are exposed frequently to the acids in the fruit. These acids, combined with the sugar content, can coat your teeth and cause your enamel to soften and erode over time. Because enamel is incapable of growing back, once it is gone and eroded, you will be at risk for more cavities and other dental issues.

Lemons and limes are particularly detrimental, and should only be consumed in moderation. However, because lime is such an important ingredient in many Hispanic food distribution dishes, you may want to try and brush your teeth soon after eating anything drizzled with lime to help prevent the erosion from being too significant. Especially if you enjoy eating this type of food often, which many people do.

All of that being said, you shouldn’t swear off citrus all together, as vitamin C is important for a healthy body. It helps maintain collagen, and those who are deficient in this vitamin can even suffer from bleeding gums which can cause instability in the teeth, leading to dental issues even without consuming a lot of citrus acids. Eating a few oranges or enjoying some lime on your tacos is perfectly fine a couple of times a week, provided that you continue brushing your teeth regularly to prevent the acid from accumulating.

2. Soft Drinks

Although soft drinks may not be surprising when considering foods bad for teeth enamel, they do warrant mentioning due to just how bad they can be. Just as citrus fruits have acid that can harm your tooth enamel, the sugars in soft drinks can interact with the natural bacteria in your mouth to form acid. This acid attacks your enamel in a way similar to citrus acid, and when combined with the acidity already in many soft drinks, it can be a potent enamel killer. Although this acid attacks your teeth for around 20 minutes after drinking, if you are sipping soda all day, you are not giving time for the attack to stop. This means that your tooth enamel will constantly be soaked in this acid mix, making the erosion much worse.

To put this in perspective, here is the acidity of many popular drinks, as well as their sugar contents, as compared to battery acid.

  • Battery Acid: Acidity – 6, 0 tsp sugar
  • Pepsi: Acidity – 4.5, 9.8 tsp sugar
  • Dr. Pepper: Acidity – 4, 9.5 tsp sugar
  • Diet Coke: Acidity – 3.6, 0 tsp sugar
  • Sprite: Acidity – 3.6, 9 tsp sugar
  • Gatorade: Acidity – 4, 3.3 tsp sugar

While none of these are quite as acidic as battery acid — thankfully — Pepsi, for example, is just a pH of 1.5 away, and that doesn’t include the almost 10 tsp of sugar which also creates additional acids in your mouth.

Frequent consumption of soft drinks can cause the erosion of enamel, which can leave the dentine underneath exposed. This sensitive layer is then at risk of decay, tooth pain, and increased sensitivity.

If you don’t want to switch to a diet like the HCG diet and remove soft drinks from your life, you can still enjoy them, with a few stipulations. Firstly, don’t sip them all day long, as this won’t give your mouth time to restore its natural pH balance. The faster you can drink, the better off you will be. Using a straw can also help lower the amount of exposure to the drink that your teeth experience.

Secondly, you shouldn’t brush your teeth immediately after drinking, even though this may sound like a good idea. This is because brushing your teeth after drinking a soda can cause friction to increase the damage caused by the acid attacking the teeth. Wait at least an hour for your mouth to restore more balance before picking up your toothbrush.

Lastly, regular teeth cleaning and checkups are essential so that your dentist can spot any problems before they get worse. A cleaning can also remove plaque buildup and harmful bacteria that can increase the likelihood of decay.

3. Alcohol

Many people enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or a cocktail out with friends. However, it is one of the foods bad for teeth enamel. Tooth decay, mouth sores, and gum disease are all much likelier to occur in those who drink more heavily, and alcohol abuse is the second most common risk factor for developing oral cancer. If you have a history of heavy alcohol use, you should see a periodontist to ensure that your gums are in good health and to treat any potential issues that you may have not detected.

People who drink often also are more likely to have more plaque on their teeth, and are three times more likely to experience tooth loss. Along with this, some alcohol, such as red wine or liquors mixed with dark sodas, can cause enamel staining that can be difficult to reverse if it gets to be too significant. While drinking with a straw can help mitigate this, alcohol also has another effect. It can dry out your mouth.

Drinks with a high alcohol content can dry out the mouth, giving bacteria and plaque an easier environment to thrive in. This can contribute to plaque buildup and enamel erosion that can lead to cavities.

When you do drink, make sure to stay hydrated with water, which can also help stave off any nasty hangovers as well.

4. Pickles

When it comes to foods bad for teeth enamel, pickle lovers are in for a shock. While not the worst offender, the acid in the vinegar that is used in the pickling process can contribute to enamel erosion. By far, it is these acids that make some foods bad for teeth enamel.

Although pickles may not be the best treat for your teeth, they are okay in moderation, especially if you are hydrated. Being hydrated helps with the production of saliva, which can help wash away plant residues, sugars, and anything else that may get stuck to your teeth after eating. The faster these particles are removed, the lower the chances are for bacteria to feed on them and cause decay to set in.

If you eat a pickle, just like with soda, you shouldn’t immediately brush your teeth, as the acids will have temporarily weakened your enamel and the abrasion from your toothbrush can cause additional wear. 30 minutes to an hour should pass before you start brushing.

5. Tomato Sauces

We’ve already mentioned lime juice in Hispanic foods. Now let’s take a look at some Italian favorites. Pasta sauce that uses tomatoes is considered one of the foods bad for teeth enamel due to its acidity. If you’re sensing a pattern here, you’re correct, acids are enamel’s biggest enemy and, unfortunately, they are present in many favorite foods. Tomato pasta sauce has a sharp flavor which is caused by the acid in the tomatoes used to make it. In fact, foods like salsa, ketchup, and pizza sauce also find themselves in this category due to tomatoes being a primary ingredient.

If you aren’t willing to give up on tomato-based sauces — and who can blame you? — you are in luck. Drinking water while eating can help wash away some of the acid, making it harder for it to weaken your enamel. However, if you are looking for a tomato alternative for pasta night, pasta with a cheese sauce can be a great alternative that is slightly more enamel friendly.

6. Dried Fruits

When you think about foods bad for teeth enamel, you might consider fruits and veggies to be better and healthier for your mouth and whole body. However, while raw fruits and veggies are great — sugary fruits in moderation — dried fruits are often much more sugary and their sticky textures make it easy for them to stick to your teeth. Anything sweet that adheres to your teeth is a recipe for cavities, and dried fruit is right up there with candy. The longer the sticky substance sits on your teeth, the more opportunities bacteria have to interact with it and produce enamel eroding acids.

However, while this doesn’t mean you have to give them up altogether, moderation — as with everything else on this list — is key. A little self restraint now when it comes to foods bad for teeth enamel, can ensure that you won’t be footing the bill for some expensive dental equipment financing. ( Dentists have to pay the bills too!)

The Dangers of Tooth Decay and Enamel Errosion

Although you may think that a couple of cavities isn’t the end of the world, a couple can quickly turn into a lot, especially if your oral hygiene isn’t sufficient and you consume a lot of sugary and acidic foods. If a cavity grows too large, it can cause significant pain as it reaches the nerves inside the tooth.

Another danger that many people don’t consider is the risk of opioid addiction that can stem from opioid pain relievers prescribed to treat pain. While not prescribed for cavity repair, typically, if your teeth are allowed to get bad enough to require extensive work, you may end up requiring medications like these to ease the pain. Opiods carry a high risk of dependency and because of this, taking care of your teeth and treating problems before they grow to be significant can be extremely important.

Additionally, the more work you need done, the more expensive the treatments will be. As noted above, dental equipment isn’t cheap, and some specialized services will carry a higher bill because of that. This can lead to you further putting off dental work, which leads to a cycle of constantly worsening oral health.

The best thing you can do is try your best to care for your teeth and schedule regular dentist visits to ensure that there are not problems that need to be treated quickly. Just as you wouldn’t allow mold to grow unabated in your home without calling a mold remediation service to fix the problem, you shouldn’t allow your teeth to decay without exhausting every avenue of treatment and care.

Oral health problems can quickly cause issues throughout the body, and some can even put you at risk of bacterial infections in your blood which can impact your heart valves. When put into perspective like this, avoiding foods bad for teeth enamel seems much easier and more important.

If you’re concerned that you may have a cavity or other dental problems, consider cutting down on some of the foods mentioned above, and schedual an appointment with your dentist so that you can get the care that you need as soon as possible.

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