We’re sure you have a personal list of foods you’ve been told all your life to avoid. Because they could ruin your teeth. The thing is, you probably weren’t really told how or why.
In most cases, they all have is a few simple things in common. Ask yourself these questions each time you take a sip or bite, and it could easily improve your dental health: Is it sticky? Starchy? Carbonated? Will it make my mouth dry?
Today, we give you the skinny on sticky, talk about when drinks can get tricky, and mention a few starchy snacks you should steer clear of if you can.
The Skinny on Sticky
Here’s the skinny: no matter their nutritional value, sticky foods aren’t the best option when it comes to oral health. The reason for this is that sticky stuff… well, sticks.
That means that remnants of sticky snacks tend to cling to your teeth longer than other foods. Moreover, we challenge you to name one sticky food that isn’t full of sugar or starch.
So, essentially you wind up with bits of bacteria boosters on the surfaces of and in-between teeth.
Some examples include:
Sour candies are possibly the worst of them, packing a one-two punch against your oral health. Not only are they loaded with sugar, but they’ve got more acid than other candy, so they are far tougher on teeth.
The next-worst sticky snack lands here because most of the time, people choose it due to the fact that they think it’s healthier: dried fruit. “Nature’s candy” has less acid than chewy sours, we’ll give it that. However, raisins, prunes, apricots, figs and so on are all perfect little sticky packets of sun-kissed sugar.
If you’ve got to have something sweet, opt for fresh whole fruit – less acid, less sugar, and less “stick.”
When Drinks Get Tricky
The point of having a beverage is usually to quench your thirst, right? Funny thing is, unless it’s water, your drink probably isn’t doing the job.
Most other beverages are either chock full of sugar and/or acids that wreak havoc on your teeth… and often leave you with a dry mouth that makes you thirstier than ever.
Coffee beverages can be healthy choices – modified and in moderation. Unfortunately, they can be highly acidic, too, which can erode your tooth enamel and dry your mouth, making your teeth more vulnerable to decay. Further, added sugars can also be problematic.
Sure, you know flavored soda has a ton of sugar. Did you also know that a recent study revealed that drinking enough of it can cause as much damage to your teeth as using methamphetamine and crack cocaine? It’s actually the carbonation that enables plaque to yield greater amounts of acid, which attack your tooth enamel.
Plus, those bubbles are drying out your mouth, upsetting its pH balance and leaving you open to further decay. If you’re going to drink it, ask for a water with your soda, and wash it down quick.
Chewing on Ice
A quick note for those of you who like your beverages on the rocks. Chewing on ice (or any hard substance, for that matter) is a surefire way to wind up with a dental emergency like broken, chipped, and cracked teeth, or loosened crowns.
We recommend pre-chilling when possible, and thinking about switching to reusable ice cubes. They help you avoid the urge to crunch – and they don’t water down your drinks either!
Steer Clear of Starchy Snacks
All starches – even whole grains – convert to sugar eventually, and your saliva is the first element of that conversion process. So, when you eat starchy snacks, the effect on your oral health is similar to what happens when you eat candy.
Ever take a bite of a sandwich and the bread sticks to the roof of your mouth? That’s
because your saliva quickly breaks those refined sugars and starches found in it down to a gummy paste that can also stick to the crevices in-between your teeth.
Chips of any kind are loaded with starch, but potato chips are the quintessential example.
What happens to chip starch? It turns to sugar. Same as any other sugar, leftovers between your teeth feed the harmful bacteria that exists with plaque already present. Feed the plaque, create the acid.
Whole grains (in your bread and chips) are a better choice, but fewer starchy foods equals less risk overall.
Ultimately, the key to a healthy mouth is a balanced pH. Unfortunately, those foods which are sticky, starchy, and acidic create a situation where levels are off kilter. No food is perfect, but steering clear of these few can go a long way in preventing the inevitable imbalance.
If you need help determining which foods are your best options for maintaining a healthy mouth and preventing further tooth decay, your South Florida dentist is always available to discuss. Reach us by telephone or fill out the contact form on our website!