Good oral hygiene practices can give you more than just a beautiful smile. Caring for your teeth can prevent tooth decay, bad breath, and gum disease. There are many widely-known villains to oral health care, including candy, fizzy drinks, and not brushing at least twice a day.
However, you may not be aware of everyday foods, drinks, and activities that could be harming your teeth. You probably did not know that the cough lozenge that keeps your throat clear is full of sweeteners. How about the improperly-balanced chemicals in your community swimming pool? Here is a list of 20 surprising things that could be damaging your teeth and tips on how to protect your oral health.
It is important to note that a number of the listed items may have some overall health benefits. You may not have to eliminate such foods and drinks from your meal plan altogether. This post places a focus on the potential negative effects that they may have on your teeth. If unsure, kindly consult your dentist.
Here are the 20 surprising food, drinks, and activities that could be bad for your teeth
1. Dry Fruits
Dry fruits are rich in vitamins, proteins, and minerals, making them ideal healthy snacks. Packed apricots, raisins, figs, dates, and other dried fruits have a high fructose content. The concentrated sugar makes your snacking option ideal for oral bacteria. The sugary treats are also sticky, clinging to the teeth. The oral bacteria feed on the sugars, releasing an acid that erodes the enamel.
Tip: Remember to brush and floss immediately after enjoying your snack to remove any stuck sugar. You may also prefer the fresher version that is less sticky.
2. Diet Soda
Your healthier replacement may not contain any sugars but may have high acidity levels. The acids in the diet soda attack the enamel, dissolving and weakening it. The eroded teeth acquire a chalky appearance that eventually stains the teeth. The teeth also remain exposed to tooth decay.
Tip: Drink the diet soda together with a meal that will neutralize the acids. Experts also advise on using a straw to bypass your teeth.
3. White Wine
Red wine already gets a bad rap for the insistent tooth staining. You may not know that white wine also doesn’t do a great job caring for your teeth. White wine contains acids that erode the enamel. This is the case, especially for individuals that love to swish the gulp around the mouth before swallowing. It provides more contact for the acids with your teeth, creating rough spots staining.
Tip: Always rinse your mouth with water after finishing your drink.
Fruit juices offer the full punch of vitamins and antioxidants necessary for optimal health. However, your glass of fresh juice may have a high sugar content, which is bad for your teeth. Research shows one cup of orange juice contains 21g of sugar, equivalent to half a coke can. Oral bacteria feed on the sugars, generating acids that eat up the enamel.
Tip: You may decide to take your fruit juice using a straw to minimize contact with the teeth. Whole fruits are also a better option, as the sugars remain trapped in the fiber.
5. Baby Bottles
Preventive dental care begins at infancy and continues throughout life. Your baby’s primary teeth also need attention and care. It may sound convenient to put your baby to sleep with a bottle of milk, juice, or formula in their mouth. However, your baby might get used to it, bathing their teeth with sugars every night.
Tip: Keep the bottle out of the cot at night. You can also consult your pediatric dental clinic on the best ways to look after their teeth.
6. Barbecue Sauce
The holy grail of any grill seasoning in America is a bowl of hot barbecue sauce. The dark, hot, and sticky sauce may not be the best option when it comes to caring for your teeth. The sugars feed the bacteria stuck on your plaque, leading to tooth decay. It also sticks on your teeth, creating a safe-haven for the said bacteria.
Tip: Choose a low sugar BBQ sauce to elevate the flavors on your grilled meat. Remember also to brush and floss immediately after enjoying your ribs.
7. Swimming Pools
Nothing is as refreshing as taking a dip into a swimming pool under the intense summer heat. While most people take care of their skin and hair by taking a shower immediately after they come out of the pool, they never think of their teeth. Improperly chlorinated water may lead to Swimmer’s Calculus after prolonged exposure. The chlorine causes mineral deposits on the enamel surface that eventually discolor the teeth.
Tip: Keep your mouth closed as much as possible while swimming. Ensure that your pool water has a well-balanced pH of about 7.2-7.8.
Dental experts say that anxiety, anger, and stress increase the chances of you grinding your teeth, especially at night. Bruxism, which is excessive teeth grinding, results in the wearing of the tooth surface. It may lead to chipping, tooth sensitivity, and extreme jaw pain.
Tip: Find ways to alleviate your stress and anxiety feelings. Local dental services can also provide a custom night mouth guard as a way of caring for your teeth at night.
9. Oral Piercing
Tongue, cheek, and lip piercings are an excellent way to express your style and remain trendy. However, before including piercings to your oral and dental makeover, remember that your mouth is full of bacteria that can cause infection and swelling. Your teeth can crack from biting the metal stud or repeatedly clanking against the tooth. The piercing rubbing against your gums may lead to inflammation.
Tip: The best way is to speak to your dentist before deciding on the new jewel in your mouth.
10. Cough Drops and Breath Mints
Cough drops contain high sugar levels. Sugar, whether from lozenges or hard candy, will feed the oral bacteria which produce acids. The acids dissolve the enamel, leading to teeth sensitivity and staining. You can suck on the cough drop for hours, increasing the contact time between the sugar and your teeth.
Tip: Find sugar free cough drops and breath mints. You should also rinse your mouth with water and brush your teeth at the earliest chance.
11. At-Home Whitening
Straightened teeth and pearly whites are essential ingredients for a beautiful smile. According to an AACD survey, 99.7% of adults agree that a healthy smile is socially significant. While teeth whitening toothpaste is fairly common, you may need to look out for brands with abrasive particles. Some chemicals can be harsh on your enamel, leading to erosion and staining in the long term.
Tips: Stay clear of whitening toothpaste and gels. The best alternative for caring for your teeth would be to go to the dentist for professional cleaning and whitening.
While you might enjoy your happy hour, the price you pay for imbibing might be higher than you anticipated. Alcohol can change the microbiome in your mouth by altering saliva flow in your mouth. Alcohol is a diuretic, leading to dehydration and a dry mouth. Saliva is vital for keeping the populations of ‘bad’ bacteria in the mouth in check. It also neutralizes harmful acids that may erode the enamel. A dry mouth can lead to plaque formation, gum disease, tooth decay, and loss.
Tip: Reducing your alcohol consumption can help you reduce the risks of a dry mouth. It is also essential to intersperse your beer bottles with glasses of water to minimize the diuretic effects.
13. Potato Chips
Who does not love the eternally satisfying crunch of salted potato chips? However, the crunch and grind of the chip in your mouth may lodge it between the crevices in your teeth. It may be worse for persons wearing braces. The saliva enzymes act on the starch, producing sugars that feed the oral bacteria. The acids dissolve the enamel.
Tip: If you prefer to satisfy your cravings with a bag of chips, always ensure that you floss afterward to remove the trapped particles.
14. Birth Control Pills
Oral contraceptives contribute to hormonal changes that may affect your gums. Caring for your teeth might become difficult when you have swollen and inflamed gums. In some cases, the pills may cause drying of the mouth, which may further complicate the situation.
Tip: You may need to consult your dentist before taking any birth control pills. Lower hormonal doses may also lessen the effect. Eat foods rich in antioxidants that can reduce the inflammatory response in your body.
64% of the American adult population wake up to a cup of coffee every day. However, a cup of hot beverage may dent your efforts of caring for your teeth. The tanning acids may cause the yellowing of your teeth. The acids also erode the enamel, forming a rough stained surface that traps bacteria. The caffeine in dark brew may also cause drying of the mouth, leading to gum disease and tooth decay.
Tip: You may need to drink your coffee in moderation to reduce its effect on your teeth. You may also add milk to the coffee to neutralize the harmful acids.
16. Chewing on Ice Cubes
Some people have a terrible behavior of chewing on frozen cubes. What harm could it bring? After all, it is just natural and sugar-free water. However, crushing the ice cubes with your teeth can cause dental emergencies such as chipped, cracked, or broken teeth. It may also damage the porcelain crowns that you got.
Tip: Resisting the urge to chew on the frozen cubes is one way for caring for your teeth. You can opt to chew on sugarless gum instead.
17. White Bread
You may have to rethink your choice the next time you walk down the bread aisle. White bread contains a lot of processed sugars and starch. Salivary enzymes quickly break down the starch, forming a sticky, gummy paste in your mouth. The sticky bread pieces hide between your teeth, where harmful bacteria act on the sugars, producing corrosive acids. The acids may lead to gum disease and the formation of tooth cavities.
Tip: if you still need your share of morning carbs, choose whole wheat bread instead. It contains less refined sugars that provide food for the bacteria.
18. Diet Pills
Diet pills are popular weight loss supplements that offer one of the quickest ways to trim your waist. However, they may also be a fast track to gum disease and tooth decay. Like most over the counter drugs, the pills cause decreased salivary flow as a side effect. A dry mouth means less protection for your teeth against acidity and harmful bacteria.
Tip: A healthy balanced diet and exercise are the best ways to trim your weight. They may also be better at caring for your teeth.
19. Brushing at the Wrong Time
The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush for healthy gums and teeth. However, using the wrong technique and improper timing may do more harm than good. Brushing immediately after eating an acidic meal will only rub the acid on the enamel, causing more damage.
Tip: The time elapsed before brushing depends on what you take. Foods with high carbs and sugars may harm your teeth for up to 20 minutes after meals and may need immediate cleaning. You may have to wait 15 minutes before brushing after acidic meals.
20. Ignoring Dental Issues
This is actually one of the most important tips when it comes to caring for your teeth. Remember that your first sore tooth may be a sign of an underlying issue in your mouth. Most people tend to ignore the early warning signs, hoping the jaw pain will magically disappear. Pushing dental problems aside may cause the situation to worsen over time, resulting in the need for expensive restorative dentistry for simple teeth issues.
Tip: Visit your family dentist immediately whenever you have an issue with your teeth. It is also vital to keep up with your annual appointments.
It is essential to be aware of foods, drinks, and actions that may have a negative effect when caring for your teeth. You may not have to stress much about what you eat as long as you follow good dental hygiene practices.