Foods and Drinks that Hurt Your Teeth
Did you know that you could be hurting your teeth each time you eat or drink? Everything that passes through your mouth has an effect on your oral health. Plaque is a pesky substance that forms every time you eat. It is a mixture of sugars from the foods you eat mixed with bacteria in the mouth. That plaque works to erode your tooth enamel every day. Certain foods you eat can erode your teeth even quicker and cause harm because of their acidity. Some of these foods include carbonated drinks, citrus fruits, and sports drinks. Find out what foods and drinks can damage your teeth and how you can help protect your smile!
What Is Plaque?
Many people have heard of “plaque” before, but they don’t know what it does. Plaque is a substance that you make right in your mouth. When you eat, bacteria in your mouth mix with sugars in the foods and drinks you consume. That creates a sticky, transparent film that coats your teeth. That sticky film is also acidic, so over time, plaque slowly erodes away your tooth enamel. The way to combat it? Brush your teeth several times a day and floss often. That is how you can remove plaque and prevent it from hurting your teeth.
Foods that Hurt Your Teeth
What you eat can make a big difference in how healthy your mouth is. Some foods damage your teeth because of what they contain or by what you do with that food. Here are some foods that can hurt your teeth:
- Ice Chips – Although ice is just hardened water, it can break or chip a tooth if you chew on it. Water gets very hard, and often water in the form of ice breaks teeth or wears them down over time.
- Fruits – Whether you have fruits often or fruit juice, they both contain citric acid. Any type of acid is one that you want to watch out for as it will hurt your teeth. Citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons will damage your tooth enamel and weaken it over time.
- Hard Foods – Be careful when eating hard foods such as carrots, nuts, popcorn hulls, hard candies and more, as you could break or chip a tooth.
- Sugary Foods – Foods with sugar help make more plaque in your mouth. The more sugar there is, the more plaque you can make. Limit your sugar intake to help keep your mouth healthier.
- Chewy Foods – Chewy foods such as gummies, taffy, caramels and more, stick to the teeth more than other foods. That means sugar sits on your teeth for longer, eroding your enamel. Brush your teeth after eating these foods.
Drinks that Damage Tooth Enamel
Not only do you have to be careful about the types of foods you eat, but you also have to watch the beverages you consume. Drinks can also hurt your teeth, and generally do so much more than foods do. The average person needs to drink about half their body weight in ounces each day to stay properly hydrated. In an ideal world, people would drink only water or liquids such as vitamin-fortified milk. However, it’s becoming more common for people to consume sugary drinks such as sodas, juices, and energy drinks instead of water. These types of drinks can quickly damage your teeth.
Different Types of Drinks
There are many types of drinks. Some of the most common drinks are the ones that hurt your teeth:
- Sugary Drinks – Sports drinks provide electrolytes, which help keep your muscles working, your energy higher and help you recover better. However, they are full of sugar, which will damage your teeth. Juices aren’t any better either. Always check your drink label for the sugar content and avoid drinks with lots of sugar.
- Sodas – One of the worst culprits of drinks that hurt your teeth is soda. These not only are full of sugar, but they also contain carbonation. Carbonation gives you that fizzy pop in your mouth because the CO2 in the carbonation has a chemical reaction in your mouth. This turns that CO2 into carbonic acid, which erodes away your tooth enamel. If you want stronger teeth, skip the soda.
- Energy Drinks – Think of these as a step up from sodas. Most energy drinks contain carbonation, although you can find options that are non-carbonated. However, most energy drinks work overtime to hurt your teeth. Energy drinks generally give you a boost of energy through caffeine. Most energy drinks also add in much more sugar than a regular soda would (which is already a lot). Save your teeth and get more sleep or exercise for energy.
- Additional Beverages – There are many drinks that can hurt your teeth. Water can hurt your teeth if it is carbonated, because of the acid that is involved. Milk is great for your teeth, as it contains calcium and phosphate, which can help rebuild your tooth enamel. However, chocolate milk is full of sugar, which hurts your teeth. With any drink, always check the label to know what you are actually drinking.
Dental Exams and Cleanings
You can protect your teeth through proper brushing and flossing practices. The American Dental Association recommends that every person brush their teeth at least twice a day, if not after every meal. The more often you brush your teeth, the less likely you are to have tooth decay and problems such as gum disease. Patients can also benefit from mouthwash and fluoride treatments.
Mouthwash can kill bacteria that help make plaque in your mouth. Fluoride fights against the damaging effects of plaque. All of these habits promote great oral health. Seeing your dentist for comprehensive exams and dental cleanings twice a year will also help you to know how healthy your mouth is. This is where we can give your teeth a thorough cleaning and teach you tips for better oral care. If you would like to know more about foods and drinks and how they affect your teeth, call Dr. Ania’s office today at (303) 872-9940!