Last week, we talked about food and drinks that are GOOD for your teeth. But do you know there is food that is bad for your teeth?
Maintaining pearly whites is difficult because of drinks like wine and coffee, but the food you eat can create long-lasting health problems.
Knowing which foods to avoid for your oral health is as important as brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups to keep your teeth healthy. Some of these foods are obvious, but it’s easy to overlook others on this list.
Here are five of these foods to avoid since they may cause dental problems.
Why it’s bad: What can be bad about water? Nothing— if it isn’t frozen.
We all know how important drinking enough water each day is for the best health. But as good as drinking water is for your overall health, chewing ice is extremely bad for your dental health.
Ice is bad for two reasons. First, it is extremely hard. The enamel on your teeth is also hard, but your teeth aren’t meant to grind ice cubes into liquid. Second, ice is freezing cold. Excessive exposure of your tooth to freezing temperatures makes your teeth more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures.
Are you a frequent ice cruncher? You actually might have a medical problem.
If you habitually crave or chew ice, you may have a condition known as pagophagia. This may show you are deficient in iron and possibly anemic. A medical examination could rule this out as a cause of your ice chewing.
Side effects: Ice damages the enamel by causing it to chip or crack. Hairline cracks may form over time that may eventually cause the tooth to split and require extraction. Even if a tooth doesn’t split, chewing food can be painful in the presence of hairline cracks. Ice can also make your teeth unpleasantly sensitive to hot or cold foods and drinks.
Alternatives: Try chilling your beverages to rely less on ice. Not having ice in your glass removes the temptation to chew it. If you miss that crunching sensation, try replacing ice with carrots or another healthy and crunchy snack.
Why it’s bad: Popcorn is a food that is bad for your teeth for two reasons. The first reason is the unpopped kernels. If you absentmindly bite down on one of these kernels as you watch your movie, you will come right out of your chair from the sharp pain.
The other reason popcorn is bad for your teeth is the thin shell or husk surrounding the kernel. These can get stuck between your teeth or in the narrow space between your tooth and gum.
Side effects: Biting on the unpopped kernel can crack your tooth. This will usually need treatment with a crown and possibly a root canal treatment. The tooth may split if the crack is bad enough. A split tooth requires extraction. It is amazing how much one unpopped kernel of popcorn can cost you!
The popcorn husk can lead to another dental problem: gum infection. These husks fit perfectly between the gum and tooth, so they can be very difficult to remove. If it stays there a day or two, it creates pain and swelling. This can become a dental emergency requiring immediate treatment by your dentist.
Alternatives: Popcorn makes many of the online “Foods That Dentists Won’t Eat” lists. The reason is simple: popcorn just isn’t worth it! But if you’re searching for an alternative, popcorn puffs are about the closest choice. It isn’t as healthy, but it also won’t create problems for your teeth.
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3. Soft Drinks
Why it’s bad: You might not think of a diet soda as a food that is bad for your teeth. You would be partly right because they don’t have the cavity-causing sugar that regular soft drinks do.
But it isn’t just the sugar in soft drinks that cause harm to your teeth. The acids are very destructive and even cause plaque to produce more acids to attack your teeth.
So, yes. The diet sodas are bad, too.
Side effects: The high sugar content of soft drinks makes them one of the leading foods that cause tooth decay. Drinking a large soda keeps your teeth bathed in sugar for a long time, and that increases the chances of a cavity forming. The high acidic content of soft drinks damages your enamel by eroding away its outer layer. This can create multiple problems, including harming your smile. Some soft drinks also have the potential to cause discoloration if consumed often.
Alternatives: Your dental (and overall) health will benefit from water replacing your soft drinks. Unsweetened tea is another healthier alternative. If you need to taper off the soft drink habit, don’t brush your teeth after drinking sodas. Wait at least 30 minutes to let the effects of the acid subside. This will save the enamel on your teeth from erosion.
RELATED: HOW TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH PROPERLY
4. Dried Fruit
Why it’s bad: Those tasty, dried pineapples, prunes, or raisins? They are all considered food that is bad for your teeth. These are harmful to your teeth because they contain sugar and because they’re sticky. This combination is why the American Dental Association describes dried fruits as “your mouth’s worst nightmare.”
Side effects: The stickiness of dried fruits causes them to easily stick to your teeth, especially molar teeth grooves. So, while you might receive the benefit of the fruit’s fiber, you run the risk of cavities.
Alternatives: Choosing fresh or frozen fruits drops the cavity risk of dried fruits. Make sure the package of frozen fruit has no added sugar!
5. Potato Chips
Why it’s bad: It’s hard to eat one or two potato chips. They seem like such a harmless and enjoyable snack!
Because potato chips contain a large amount of starch, they are a food that is bad for your teeth. This starch turns into sugar and feeds the bacteria in the plaque on your teeth.
Side effects: The bacteria in the plaque release acids that attack the enamel on your teeth. This enamel breaks down and causes a cavity in your tooth. Potato chips are especially harmful to the areas between your teeth since that’s where they get stuck (until removed by flossing).
Alternatives: Potato chips provide that crunch that we find enjoyable. Try substituting apples, carrots, and other raw vegetables that are crunchy but don’t cause cavities.