Eating healthier is a goal many of us have, but there are a number of foods that, while good for our bodies, are surprisingly bad for our teeth. Here are some foods that are surprisingly harmful to your oral health (along with some tips to help minimize damage).
Oranges and Grapefruits
Citrus fruits are supposed to be some of the healthiest fruits out there; they are packed with Vitamin C and make for a great well-rounded snack. On the flip side, they are also full of acid which results in the harmful demineralization of your enamel. The same applies to lemons and limes (even more so when you add sugar [like with lemonade] into the equation). The key is to minimize direct and long term contact citrus fruits have with your teeth. Eat oranges, grapefruits, and other citruses sparingly, and if you’re a big fan of adding lemon to your beverages, try to use a straw as often as possible.
Almonds (and other hard nuts)
Almonds are packed with vitamin E and healthy fats that are great for your body, but not so much for your teeth. Almonds can be difficult to chew as they break or splinter in your mouth (potentially causing your teeth to crack or fracture). Chew very carefully and don’t exert too much pressure when snacking on whole almonds and hard nuts. If you can, opt for sliced almonds instead (which are considerably kinder to your teeth). Aside from this, many nuts come salted, and excessive salt can have it’s own negative effect on health.
Fruit juices are another surprisingly high source of acidity which is harmful to teeth. In addition, juices tend to be made from concentrated fruit and very high in sugar. (many actually have sugar added – as if they weren’t sweet enough!) Drinking juice sparingly or with a straw is a good idea, as is drinking some water right after the juice. The key is to avoid prolonged exposure of your teeth to the sugars and acid. You can brush your teeth after drinking juice, but be sure to wait a half hour first or you might do more damage by rubbing away the acid-effected enamel.
Dried fruits can make for a great portable snack, but they are also a perfect breeding ground for cavities. Dried fruit has had all the water removed, so the fruit that remains is full of sugar that will stick in between and to the surface of your teeth. It is a good idea to take sips of water in between snacking and to thoroughly brush and floss at least twenty minutes or so after you’re done.
Many of us have been in the uncomfortable situation where the peanut butter has gotten stuck to the roof of your mouth. It’s for this sticky reason that peanut butter is such a danger to your dental health (and increases your chances of developing a cavity). Try to buy peanut butter brands without added sugar if you don’t mind the taste. Otherwise, keep floss or floss sticks with you and take the time to clean your teeth after eating.
Popcorn is considered by many dentists to be the enemy of teeth! The kernel husks can easily get lodged under your gums and cause an uncomfortable situation. A good number of patient come to see us with painful swollen gums, only to surprised when we floss out pieces of popcorn. In addition, there is a big risk of biting into an un-popped kernel and breaking a tooth or filling. The take home lesson is to be careful when eating popcorn!