As your Portland cosmetic dental care provider, the staff at Beadnell Family Dental wants every patient to know the best practices for enjoying a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. While brushing and flossing rank as the two best habits you can have to lower your risk of tooth decay, cavities and gum disease, maintaining a balanced diet can also have an enormous impact on your oral health.
While most of us know that diets high in sugar present a risk of our oral health and to our wallets (buying jeans that fit can be expensive!), there are other food items that can wreck your oral health you may not know about. With that in mind, here are a few of the worse and best foods for your teeth.
Acid – usually created by vinegar – is an essential part of the pickling process. It’s what provides pickles with their salty, sour taste. It’s also what makes them a potential threat to your tooth enamel. A study from 2004 that examined the eating habits of teenagers found pickles were the solid food most closely linked to enamel erosion. Researchers concluded that eating more than one pickle a day increases your risk of enamel erosion by nearly 85 percent.
While most of us don’t have an everyday pickle habit, keeping the potential risks in mind can be helpful for protecting your long-term oral health, especially if your favorite deli near the office includes a pickle with every sandwich you buy for lunch.
Reward: Sugar-Free Gum
Sugar-free gum helps to clean your teeth during chewing by increasing the flow of saliva your mouth produces. Saliva acts as the body’s natural defense against harmful oral bacteria, and also bathes your teeth in phosphate and calcium, which help to strengthen tooth enamel.
You might want to consider only chewing mint flavors, however, as a study from 2011 found that acids used to create certain flavors of gum could actually damage tooth enamel, even if just slightly. Still, better to embrace the safer side of this rewarding oral health habit.
While fairly obvious, it’s still worth mentioning just how dangerous drinking soda is to your long-term oral health. The typical can of non-diet soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar. The World Health Organization’s recommended daily sugar intake for adults is just 3 teaspoons a day. That means drinking just one soda equals 3 days worth of sugar consumption. Diet soda drinkers fair no better, as studies have found that the artificial sweeteners used in diet drinks also increase your risk of tooth decay.
The sugar found in soda allows oral bacteria to produce harmful acids that attack tooth enamel. All soda – diet or regular – have a high acid content, which also attacks tooth enamel. Combine the sugar and acidity of soda together in one beverage and it’s no wonder many oral health experts compare drinking soda with soaking teeth in battery acid. If you cannot stop from drinking soda, make sure you only have one a day and drink it with a larger meal like lunch or dinner. The food will help to neutralize the acid, and the body produces more saliva during meals that will wash the soda from your mouth.
Just like saliva, water helps to flush harmful bacteria and sugar from your mouth. Not only can drinking plenty water help improve your oral health, studies have found that staying hydrated throughout the day can also help you lose weight – people who drink the daily recommended amount of water are less prone to snacking – and feel more energetic.
If you’ve ever struggled to remove the brown stains found inside a coffee cup, you understand just what coffee can do to the color of your teeth over time. Coffee stains have even proven more resilient than stains caused from using tobacco. According to one study, teeth stained by coffee were more resistant to being cleaned by brushing and more likely to become stained again following teeth whitening treatments. Not only do teeth stained by coffee look darker, they also become stickier and are more likely to attract bacteria and food particles that contribute to bad breath.
These delicious summer berries contain malic acid, a natural whitener of tooth enamel. In fact, you can even use strawberries to make your own at home whitening treatment: Mix crushed strawberry pulp with baking soda and spread the mixture over the surface of your teeth with a soft toothbrush. After about five minutes, brush and rinse off the mixture and you’ll have a brighter smile. Just make sure to floss, however, as tiny strawberry seeds can easily become lodged between your teeth.
If you have any questions about the best and worse foods for your teeth, make sure to ask your Portland cosmetic dental care provider at Beadnell Family Dental during your next visit.