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It’s no surprise that soda and candy are bad for your teeth, thanks to all that sugar and acid on your enamel, but there are otherwise healthy foods that can damage them as well. However, that is not a reason to avoid those foods, as most of the ones included below are still important to a healthy diet. Follow the suggestions below so you can recognize potentially harmful foods and combat their ill effects before they do damage to your teeth.
How harmful can frozen water be? Plenty, if you’re chomping on it rather than just allowing it to cool your beverage. The extreme cold and hardness of ice can have a negative effect on your tooth enamel. Enamel is the protective surface on your teeth. Chewing ice wears the enamel down and can lead to tooth fractures. The best way to avoid damage from ice is to resist the urge to chew on it.
Almonds are a great source of vitamin E and healthy fats, but when it comes to your teeth, whole almonds can do battle with your pearly whites. Their hard texture and shape put stress on teeth when you bite down. Fractures of the teeth are not uncommon with this superfood. To avoid this, eat almond slivers instead of whole almonds. They’re easier on the jaw and less likely to cause cracks.
Citrus fruits and strawberries are full of vitamin C and high in fiber, but their high acidity is hard on the enamel. When tooth enamel erodes away, there’s nothing that can be done to fully restore it. Without the protective layer of enamel, you’ll be more susceptible to cavities and experience pain when exposed to changes in temperature from hot or cold beverages.
For your own comfort and the protection of your teeth, don’t allow the acid to sit in your mouth. Rinse or brush after eating or drinking citrus. If you don’t have access to an alcohol-free fluoride mouth rinse or toothpaste, rinse your mouth with water after consuming citrus — and make sure there’s no lemon or lime in the water you rinse with.
It’s not surprising that sweet pickled foods are bad for your teeth. After all, there’s a large amount of sugar in those items. But did you know that dill pickles and other sour pickled foods can be just as bad? Just like citrus, the culprit in pickles is acid. All pickled foods use vinegar, which has a high acid content. Acid wears down your enamel, making your teeth more vulnerable to problems.
In addition to the earlier suggestions about brushing or rinsing, you can also eat a piece of cheese to combat the effects of acid. The calcium in cheese neutralizes the acid in the vinegar. If you’re watching your cholesterol, opt for a piece of sugar-free gum that contains xylitol, which will also neutralize the acid.
Red wine has been getting some great PR for its heart-healthy benefits when consumed in small amounts, but those benefits do not extend to your teeth. Not only does red wine have a tendency to stain teeth, but it too contains sugar and acid. If you plan to indulge, brush, rinse, or chew gum afterwards. Cheese also goes very nicely with wine.
While we’re on the topic of stained teeth, while blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are high in antioxidants, they are also hyper-pigmented. That pigmentation, which gives them their gorgeous jewel tones, also makes them an enemy of the mouth. When berries are allowed to sit in the mouth, their dark colors can stain your teeth. That doesn’t just go for the fruit itself, but for foods that contain them, such as muffins, pies, and syrups.
If you don’t want your teeth to get discolored, you need to get the pigmentation off of them as soon as you’re done eating. Brushing is the best way to do that. But since many of these berries also contain very small seeds, pay extra attention to the strength with which you brush. You should always brush gently, as if you are polishing a pearl. Your enamel is fragile, and rough brushing or scrubbing the seeds across your teeth can wear enamel away over time.
Dried fruits are a delicious and satisfying source of fiber, but most commercially dried fruit contains a large amount of sugar. Unlike fresh fruit, which also contains sugar, dried fruit’s sticky consistency causes the fruit to adhere to your teeth’s nooks and crannies. This concentrated sugar pressed against your teeth invites bacteria that cause cavities. In order to avoid this, remove the remnants as quickly as possible by swishing water in your mouth after eating. Twenty minutes later, brush your teeth thoroughly.
While all breads contain sugars and can be bad for your teeth, the old-fashioned white bread that you can roll into a ball is the worst. If you’ve ever eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and pressed the bread up against the roof of your mouth, you’ll notice it sticks there like glue.
When this happens in the pockets of your teeth, you’re inviting the bacteria that causes cavities. While this is also possible with whole-grain breads, it’s less likely to occur because of the bread’s tougher consistency. Your doctor would probably prefer that you stay away from white bread anyway, but if you must indulge, brush and floss afterwards.
Taking care of your teeth is essential to your overall health. However, foods that are healthy for your body are not always healthy for your teeth. There’s no reason to cut healthy foods from your diet, but you can cut back, change how you eat them, or take measures to make sure they’re doing your body good without negatively impacting your mouth.
Image via Flickr by Image Catalog
Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice. #2016-21813 (exp. 4/18)
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