Oral health is more than just brushing and flossing your teeth. It also depends on what you eat and drink. Some foods and beverages can cause plaque buildup, which can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral problems. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that feeds on sugars and produces acids that attack tooth enamel. When the enamel wears away, cavities can form and cause pain, infection, and tooth loss. To prevent plaque from damaging your teeth and gums, you should avoid or limit the following kinds of food that are bad for your oral health.
- Sour candies
Candy is one of the worst foods for your teeth, especially sour candy. Sour candy contains more and different kinds of acids that are harsher on your enamel. It also sticks to your teeth for a long time, giving bacteria more opportunity to cause decay. If you crave something sweet, choose chocolate instead, which you can chew quickly and wash away easily.
Bread may seem harmless, but it can be bad for your oral health. When you chew bread, your saliva breaks down the starches into sugar. The bread then becomes a gummy paste that gets stuck in the crevices between your teeth. This can cause cavities over time. If you want some carbs, opt for whole wheat bread, which has less added sugars and does not break down as easily.
Drinking alcohol can dry out your mouth, which is bad for your oral health. A dry mouth lacks saliva, which you need to keep your teeth healthy. Saliva helps prevent food from sticking to your teeth, washes away food particles, and repairs early signs of tooth decay and gum disease. To keep your mouth hydrated, drink plenty of water and use fluoride rinses or oral hydration solutions.
- Carbonated drinks
Soda and other carbonated drinks are bad for your oral health in many ways. They contain a lot of sugar, which feeds plaque bacteria. They also contain phosphoric and citric acids, which erode tooth enamel. They can also dry out your mouth and stain your teeth. If you sip soda all day, you are coating your teeth in acid and sugar. Avoid or limit carbonated drinks and drink water instead.
Ice may seem harmless, but chewing on it can damage your teeth. Ice is hard and can crack or chip your enamel or fillings. It can also irritate the soft tissues inside your mouth and cause tooth sensitivity. Instead of chewing on ice, use it to chill your drinks or suck on it gently.
Citrus fruits and juices are good sources of vitamin C, but they are also acidic and can harm your enamel. Frequent exposure to acidic foods can erode your enamel and make your teeth more prone to decay. Citrus can also irritate mouth sores and dry out your mouth. If you consume citrus, rinse your mouth with water afterward and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
- Potato chips
Potato chips are crunchy and delicious, but they are also bad for your oral health. Potato chips are high in starch, which turns into sugar in your mouth. They also tend to get trapped between your teeth, where bacteria can feast on them and produce acid. If you snack on potato chips, floss afterward to remove any bits that may be stuck in your teeth.
- Dried fruits
Dried fruits may seem like a healthy snack, but they are not good for your oral health. Dried fruits are sticky and sugary, which means they cling to your teeth and feed plaque bacteria. They can also pull out fillings or loosen braces. If you eat dried fruits, rinse your mouth with water afterward and brush and floss carefully.
The Bottom Line
Your diet plays an important role in your oral health. To keep your teeth and gums healthy, avoid or limit foods that are bad for them, such as sour candies, bread, alcohol, carbonated drinks, ice, citrus, potato chips, and dried fruits. Instead, choose foods that are good for them, such as cheese, yogurt, nuts, leafy greens, apples, carrots, celery, tea, and water.
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