There are very few things in the world that impact your health as much as your diet. Most people realize the benefits of eating healthy, but there are also some foods that you should avoid if you want to stay in good health. This is especially true for people that want to keep their teeth in good shape, since both the nutritional value of the food and the effect that it has on your mouth while you eat it can both be important.
Almost everybody knows that candy is bad for their teeth. Teachers and dentists warn children about it every Halloween, so it’s not surprise that it’s common knowledge. People don’t always realize that some candies are better than others, so there are ways to indulge a sweet tooth without doing too much damage to your mouth.
According to the University of Rochester, the trick is to avoid candy that sticks to your teeth. Candy can damage your teeth because the bacteria that live on them can feed on sugar and excrete chemicals that damage your teeth. The more sugar on your teeth, the more damage they can do. That means that any candy that sticks to your teeth and leaves plenty of sugar for the bacteria will do a lot more damage than something that goes down quickly. Sticker candies are also harder to get off your teeth when you brush them, so they’re worse for your mouth even if you brush regularly.
Some people say that soda is liquid candy, and they’re mostly correct. According to Forefront Dentistry, soda can coat your whole mouth with sugar very easily since it’s a liquid, which means that it is great for feeding bacteria. That having been said, even diet drinks that don’t have any sugar in them can cause plenty of damage to your teeth.
Most carbonated drinks include several acids that are used for preservation and flavoring. Citric acid and phosphoric acid are the most common, and both of them can contribute to acid erosion of the teeth. Many other foods also include some citric or phosphoric acid, but very few of them have as much as soda. Your teeth can handle those chemicals in moderation, especially if you take good care of them, but they can only take so much before they start to break down. A little bit of soda is usually fine, but a lot of it can do permanent damage to your teeth.
Vinegar can damage your teeth for many of the same reasons as soda. It usually doesn’t contain much sugar, but vinegar is a acetic acid diluted with water and a few traces of other chemicals. The acid content in vinegar can be as high as 20%, so even a little bit of it can significantly weaken your tooth enamel.
That may not seem like a problem since most people don’t drink vinegar very often, but it’s an ingredient in a lot of other foods. Some of those foods, like vinegar-flavored chips, are relatively safe because they don’t include very much of it. Other foods, such as pickles and some salad dressings, contain enough vinegar to make significant impact in your dental health. The weakened enamel is also very vulnerable to anything else that can remove it. Some sources even suggest that brushing your teeth shortly after you expose them to acid can make the damage worse, so it pays to be very careful about consuming vinegar and other highly acidic foods.
The General Rule
If you want to keep your teeth strong, try to avoid exposing your teeth to acid, either from acidic foods or form sugary foods that help bacteria to produce acid in your mouth. You don’t have to avoid them completely. Your body can handle almost any food in moderation. Just be sure not to eat more than your teeth can tolerate, and keep an eye out for any signs of tooth decay in case you accidentally eat too much.