Terrible Foods for Your Teeth (That Aren’t Candy)
It’s not exactly a startling revelation that candies and other sticky, sugary treats are bad for teeth. But it’s not just the most obvious foods — say, caramels, taffy, or lollipops — that can wreak havoc on your chompers.
According to Matthew Messina, DDS, a Cleveland, Ohio-based dentist and consumer adviser for the American Dental Association, problems can arise when foods are sugary, sticky, starchy (meaning they cling to the teeth longer), or hard (since chewing them can cause tooth cracks or breakage).
We asked the experts to share the top teeth-destroying culprits. But don’t panic if you find your favorite snacks or drinks on the list — “there are no absolute nevers,” Messina tells Yahoo Health. “If you brush well in the morning and before bed, and floss once a day, drink a lot of water, and see your dentist for a cleaning once every six months, you can absolve yourself of many sins.
Popcorn (Kernels) Can Break Teeth
Tasty and low in calories (when you air-pop it at home, anyway) — what’s not to love? Apparently, quite a bit. “It causes a lot of problems for people in my practice,” Messina says. “Unpopped kernels tend to break teeth — especially if you have some fillings. And if you get a hull stuck in your gums, or between teeth, it may stay there until it becomes very irritating.” And caramel popcorn, he says, is the worst: “It’s all bad — sweet, chewy and with hard bits.”
Citrus Fruits Can Erode Enamel
Lemons, grapefruits, and oranges have loads of health benefits: They’re packed with vitamin C and potassium. But they also have a drawback, says Janice Yanni, DDS, a board-certified orthodontist who practices in Massachusetts and Connecticut. “The truth is that frequent exposures to acidic foods can erode enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay over time,” Yanni tells Yahoo Health. But no need to forego these fruits — just be sure to brush later.
Sports Drinks Lead To Tooth Decay
Kenyon Glor, DDS, a dentist in Wellington, Ohio, says most cases of serious tooth decay in his office can be blamed on beverages like sports drinks and sodas. “These drinks are not only supersaturated in sugar, but typically consumed over a longer period of time,” Glor tells Yahoo Health. “The sugar will be converted to an acid by the bacteria on teeth, which dissolve the teeth to form cavities. And the fact that the drinks are consumed over a period of time ensures that there will be an elongated acidic environment dissolving teeth.”
Ice Can Leave Your Teeth Vulnerable
Surprised? “Many people think ice is good for their teeth. It’s made of water, after all, and doesn’t contain any sugar or other additives,” says Yanni. “But chewing on hard substances can leave your teeth vulnerable to a dental emergency and can damage enamel.” Her advice: Break the habit and enjoy water as-is.
Potato Chips Contribute To Plaque Build-Up
“Unfortunately, potato chips are filled with starch, which tends to get trapped in your teeth,” says Yanni. “If you choose to indulge in snacks like these, take extra care when you floss that day to remove all the food particles that can lead to plaque build-up.”
Dried Fruits Feed The Bacteria In Your Mouth
Raisins and dried plums, apricots, and the like “tend to have a lot of sugar, and they stick to your teeth,” says Messina. “So when you eat them, you are giving the bacteria in your mouth a long-term food supply.” The solution: Brush well after consuming these dried treats.
Peanut Butter Clings To Teeth Like Candy
Like citrus fruits, this beloved sandwich spread offers plentiful health benefits, since it’s loaded with protein and fiber. But it’s also sticky and sweet (if you buy the kind with sugar added). It clings to your teeth just the same way that candies do, Justin Philipp, DMD, a Chandler, Arizona-based dentist, tells Yahoo Health. So if you must have that PB+J, wash it down with a tall glass of water.