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What are the Worst Foods for Dental Health?

You already know that what you put in your mouth matters to your health. But did you know that your food choices also matter to the long-term health of your teeth and gums? Food, both good and bad, has definite repercussions for oral health. Consider this: In kids aged six through 19, the most common chronic disease is dental caries — in other words, cavities. Pretty shocking, right?

These statistics show that what you eat, when you eat it, and what type of hygiene you practice afterward are critical for keeping your smile healthy for years to come.

So, Which Foods are Really the Worst Foods for Dental Health?

Keeping your mouth healthy means taking care of what you put into it. Foods that you eat and drink can all have an enormous impact on oral health. Some foods help keep your mouth healthier by increasing saliva flow, killing bad bacteria, or rebuilding tooth enamel, such as:

Of course, while these foods can help promote better dental health, there are a host of others that are detrimental to your dental health. Let’s explore some of the most common and worst:

1. Carbonated Drinks

Did you know that half of Americans drink one — or more than one — soda per day? That’s a lot of carbonated drinks and a lot of acid wearing away the enamel of your teeth. If those sodas are sweetened, it’s a double whammy, with sugar assisting in plaque growth.

2. Citrus Fruits

Fruit is good for your body, but some citrus fruits have a high acidity level that can damage tooth enamel. Grapefruits, lemons, limes, and oranges fall into this high-acid category, but that doesn’t mean you have to give them up forever. Just limit consumption and be sure to swish your mouth with water after eating them.

3. Coffee and Alcohol

While these may seem like strange drinks to lump together, they have a very similar detrimental effect on your oral environment — they can dry up saliva and make it easier for plaque to multiply. In addition, many coffees and alcoholic drinks contain added sugar that can also boost plaque development.

4. Sticky Foods

Trail mixes are often touted as a super healthy snack, as is one of their main components — dried fruit. And while there is some good nutritional value in dried fruit, they are often filled with sugars — natural or added — and are sticky to boot. That means it is easy for small pieces to get stuck between the teeth or in hard-to-reach areas where they can promote decay.

5. Starchy Foods

Snacks like potato chips and foods like crackers and bread can be comforting — and delicious. But unfortunately, their natural starches turn to sugar in your mouth, and particles of food that get trapped between teeth can contribute to the proliferation of plaque. If you eat chips or chow down on some starchy treats, be sure to brush and floss after eating.

6. Ice

Ice isn’t technically a food, but it can be so harmful to your teeth that it deserves a place on our list. You might be scratching your head right now, thinking, “But wait! All ice has in it is water, so it must be healthy.” When it comes to your dental health, ice can be a genuine hazard — if you chew it.

That’s right. Using ice to chill your drinks is just fine. The problem arises when you get the urge to chew on it. Over time, chewing ice can damage the enamel of your teeth and even loosen crowns and fillings and cause teeth to break, crack, or chip. If you find that you are too tempted to chew ice, consider chilling your drinks in the fridge to eliminate the need for ice or drinking through a straw so that the ice never touches your lips.

Chronic ice-chewing can also be a sign of a vitamin deficiency or disruptive eating patterns like pagophagia, so you ought to mention it to your dentist if ice chewing is a habit you can’t seem to kick.

7. Pickles

Pickles get their mouth-puckering taste from vinegar — an acid that can be a definite hazard to the enamel of your teeth. In fact, one study showed that among English teens, pickles increased the chances of enamel erosion by 85%. While snacking on an occasional tasty gherkin isn’t likely to be a problem, snacking on them – or any vinegar-heavy drink or food — daily can significantly contribute to wear and tear on your teeth.

Fortunately, regular visits to your dentist can help you make better food choices and can ensure that any bad habits or poor hygiene is caught before they have the opportunity to make a long-term impact on the health and beauty of your smile.

Keep Your Smile Bright, White, and Healthy

At Gardena Dental Care, we are committed to helping our patients maintain their beautiful smiles and healthy teeth throughout their lifetimes. That is why we spend time coaching our patients on how to make the most of their dental hygiene routines at their twice-yearly visits.

While this definitely can include suggestions on making healthier food and snack choices for your mouth, it is just a small part of the comprehensive care you receive at your routine check-up. We’ll also use state-of-the-art technology to keep your teeth in sparkling clean shape, even if you have indulged in some of those less healthy food choices.

To make it easy for our Gardena clients to get the dental care they need — when they need it — we offer flexible appointment times at our conveniently located office on Redondo Beach Boulevard.

Ready to get a sparkling clean smile? Contact us at (424) 295-7885 and make an appointment for an exam and cleaning today!