Brushing, flossing and keeping your biannual cleaning appointments help you maintain your dental health, but what you eat and drink also contribute significantly to (or detract from) the vitality of your teeth. Asheville dental professionals encourage you to take every measure to prevent cavities, stains and broken teeth. To that end, we recommend that you eliminate or reduce the following eight foods and drinks from your diet:
Citrus fruit and juices top the list of Asheville dental destroyers. A study published by the Academy of General Dentistry found that teeth exposed to prolonged citrus showed significant enamel loss. Lemons and grapefruit are the worst offenders, with oranges lower on the list. Even those packets of citrus powder you dissolve in a glass of water contain dangerous levels of citric acid, the main culprit in tooth erosion.
2. Dried Fruit
These healthy snacks are good for you in many ways, but we find the stickiness make them bad for your teeth. All fruit is high in sugar, a known tooth-decay trigger. When you eat fresh fruit, though, your mouth produces saliva to wash away the sugar remnants. Dried fruit, on the other hand, tends to stick, where it feeds the bacteria in your mouth, creating a perfect storm for dental problems.
3. Chewy Candy
Like dried fruit, chewy candy sticks on and between your teeth. If the candy is made from citric juices and sugar, you have a triple curse. Taffy, caramels and fruit-flavored gummy snacks give the bacteria in your mouth a feeding frenzy that will inevitably lead to decay.
Eating pickles more than once a day increases by about 85 percent the chance you’ll develop worn tooth enamel and significant tooth decay. Pickles may not top the list of Asheville dental’s no-no’s, but the vinegar that gives them their salty, sour flavor is destructive to healthy teeth.
Saliva is nature’s natural tooth cleanser because it washes away food particles and neutralizes acid in your mouth. Alcohol decreases the amount of saliva your mouth produces. At the same time, alcohol can irritate your gums and negatively affect how your mouth produces new tissue. We’d also warn you that heavy drinking can increase your odds of developing mouth cancer.
6. Soft Drinks
Not only do soft drinks contain lots of sugar, they are made with acids that are even more harmful to your teeth, so even sugar-free sodas are destructive. If you do drink soda, we recommend drinking it all at once with a meal, rather than sipping from it all day. The longer the acid has to linger on your teeth and gums, the worse it is for you. The same goes for sports drinks and energy drinks.
When it comes to your teeth, plain water is the best for your Asheville dental health. Wine is fermented with acid — that’s what makes it wine. Red wine stains your teeth, and ingredients like tannins add to the staining and acid corrosion. Tannins make your teeth sticky, so the discoloring agents can linger longer. Even white wine contains corrosive acids.
Crackers and other refined carbohydrates rapidly turn into sugar in your mouth. And it’s the sugar that feeds the bacteria waiting to form a cavity. Crackers are especially bad because they get mushy enough to easily lodge between your teeth, where they can rest and continue breeding cavity-making bacteria.
Good Dental Hygiene
Consuming these drinks and foods in moderation should not cause any dental problems, but be diligent about cleaning your teeth. Flossing or brushing 20 minutes after you’ve eaten can eradicate the most damaging dental dangers.
As concerned Asheville dental care providers, we stress the importance of flossing and regular brushing with every visit. It’s why, at every in-office cleaning, we give you a new toothbrush and packets of floss that fit snugly in your pocket or purse. So after your cheese and crackers, your morning grapefruit or orange juice, the wine tasting and dried fruit snacks, make sure you clean your teeth.
—The Zöe Dental Team