There are a few things that are very likely to hurt your family’s teeth. Sugar feeds harmful bacteria that cause problems like cavities. Acid eats away at the enamel on your enamel. Even foods that are very hard to chew can damage your teeth. That’s why you probably know to limit how much candy your family eats. It’s not just bad for the waistline; it can lead to cavities.
There’s a lot more to this than skipping candy bars. Here are several foods and drinks that can easily damage your family’s smiles that you might not know about.
1. Cubed and crushed ice: Sucking and chewing on ice is a lot of fun for some people. It helps keep you cool in warm summer months, and it’s something to do when your drink is empty. However, be careful. Ice is strong enough to do subtle damage to the enamel on your teeth. The more your family chews ice, the more they are damaging their smile. This can lead to thin spots in your enamel. It will be easier to get cavities there, and the teeth can become sensitive to heat or cold.
2. Coffee and tea drinks: That morning cup of coffee can make your day, but it can also hurt your teeth. Coffee and tea are both full of dark staining elements. Tiny amounts get stuck on your enamel. It’s subtle, so you don’t notice anything for a while. If your family drinks coffee or iced tea regularly, those tiny stains build up and turn their smiles dark. Plus, both drinks are very acidic. Unless you rinse your mouth right afterward, that acid will start to weaken the enamel.
3. Alcohol: How alcohol affects your teeth and gums depends on the type of drink you enjoy. All alcoholic drinks tend to dry your mouth out. Your mouth uses saliva to wash away tiny particles of food that harmful bacteria eat. With a dry mouth, that’s not happening. Some drinks like red wine can stain your teeth just like coffee or tea. (Wine is also highly acidic, which slowly damages your enamel.) And some mixed drinks like daiquiris have a ton of sugar in them, sometimes even more than a can of soda.
4. Popcorn: Many people look at popcorn as a healthy snack. In small doses, it can be. However, many people love kettle corn, which has a lot of sugar in it. Sweet popcorn is very similar to a candy bar. Popcorn itself, however, can hurt your teeth and gums. It’s easy to get parts stuck in between your teeth, which can hurt your gums or feed harmful bacteria. It’s also not uncommon to bite down hard on an unpopped kernel. As with ice, these are hard enough to damage your enamel.
5. Sports drinks: If your family is active in sports, you probably have a bunch of sports drinks on hand. They’re designed specifically for after exercising and being active, so why not pass them out after a big game? Unfortunately, sports drinks are usually full of sugar and carbohydrates. Carbs are very similar to sugar, so harmful bacteria love them too. As with soda, the occasional drink is fine. But if you hand out sports drinks often, you could be hurting their teeth.
6. Fruit juice: Nutritionists usually recommend adding fruit to our diets. That’s because they are full of fiber and vitamins. There’s usually not much fiber in fruit juices, though they do have vitamins. However, they often have as much sugar as soda — sometimes even more. They’re also highly acidic which damages your enamel.
7. Tomatoes: Again, there’s nothing wrong with adding more fresh foods to your family’s dinner table. Having a slice of tomato on a sandwich or burger isn’t going to do much. However, you should know that tomatoes are highly acidic. That damages enamel just like diet soda and wine. Tomatoes can stain your teeth as well. Again, it’s not a sudden thing. It’s something that builds up over time so it’s hard to even notice when it’s happening. It’s tomato sauces that become big problems. These have all the problems of fresh tomatoes (acid, stains) but with a lot of hidden sugar.
8. Regular and diet sodas: By know, your whole family likely knows sugar is bad for your teeth. That’s because the harmful bacteria behind cavities and gum disease thrive off that stuff. Regular soda is full of sugar and can increase the risk to your teeth and gums. However, diet soda is still bad for your teeth. To make sure the drink isn’t too sweet, manufacturers put in a lot of acid. This is what gives soda a tangy flavor. As shown above, acid can damage your enamel and make your teeth weaker. In fact, soaking a tooth in diet soda will eventually dissolve it.
At our Rochester, NH dental office, your family can get treatments to help. Dental cleanings help keep your teeth and gums healthy. Dental exams can spot problems while they’re still small. And if the enamel gets really damaged, you can get dental crowns. If you have any questions about how to keep your family’s smiles healthy and bright, call us today at 507-315-2932.