At Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert, we are all about health. One of the pathways to better health is through the things we eat. A balanced diet of fresh food is going to provide our bodies with the nutrients we need to boost our immune system, increase our energy, and bring us pleasure and satisfaction. But not every kind of food is good for our teeth.
We know that sugar is really bad for teeth. However, there are some foods that are advertised as healthy alternatives to sugar that have hidden dangers. And there are everyday comfort foods that can cause serious damage to teeth and gums. Below we have listed five foods that can harm teeth:
1. Dried Fruit
- Everybody likes raisins, right? Raisins are healthy, tasty, and sweet. Raisins, like figs and dates, are filled with tiny seeds that can lodge between your teeth and begin to form plaque unless you brush and floss soon after eating them.
- Most dried fruits, including apricots and prunes, are also sticky. They tend to cling on to the hard to reach places in your teeth (think molars), and there they release acidic sugar that begins to eat away at your tooth enamel.
- A better approach to eating dried fruit is to choose the fresh versions. Grapes and plums are much better for your teeth and can yield the same satisfaction as raisins and prunes. If you do choose to eat dried fruit, make sure to rinse well and brush as soon as you can.
- Nuts are another healthy snack. They are sugar-free, tasty morsels that you can eat on the run. The problem with nuts is that they are sometimes too hard to chew. Brazil nuts are particularly hard on teeth.
- Pistachios are also hard on teeth if you use your incisors to break them open. We have seen more than a few chipped teeth due to this little nut. If you like to eat pistachios, buy them pre-shelled. They may have more salt, but they will be kinder to your mouth.
- Walnuts and pecans are wonderful snacks and great additives to salads and desserts. Sometimes, though, pieces of the shell are not entirely removed before we pop them into our mouth. That crunch you hear may be the shell or it may be a part of a tooth breaking. Always inspect nuts before you eat them, and rinse thoroughly when you are done, because like dried fruit, tiny nutty bits love to hide in the cracks and crevices of your teeth.
- “As hard as ice” is a phrase we hear occasionally. If you’ve ever tried to pulverize ice in a blender, you understand the truth of that saying. Now, if your Cuisinart can’t handle ice, how do you think your teeth will fare? Ice cubes sliding down a tall glass toward your front teeth have been known to leave a chip or crack when they make contact. Trying to chew on a chunk of ice can crack a molar. It’s best to let ice melt on its own before you try to chew it.
- Slurpees present another problem. Although shaved ice by itself seldom creates tooth trouble, the sweet sticky stuff poured over it sure does. The syrup used in these summertime coolers is almost 100% refined sugar. And we know what sugar does to teeth.
- Most bread is made from flour, sugar, yeast and water. On their own, at least three of these ingredients cause problems for lots of people. Combined into a loaf of bread, they can be very harmful to your teeth. Yes, bread is soft, so there’s no problem there. But bread is primarily starch, which breaks down into simple sugars. Simple sugars attack your teeth before they attack your waistline. The starch is sticky – remember the paste you made in kindergarten with flour and water? That paste clings to the surfaces of your teeth and encourages the growth of plaque-forming bacteria. Whole grain breads are better for you than white bread, but all breads will necessitate brushing and flossing soon after you eat them.
- Popcorn slathered with butter—the perfect snack for watching a movie. It tastes great, has minimal sugar and moderate salt, but watch out! The unpopped kernels will really hurt when you bite down hard. We’ve all seen that movie. Broken teeth are no fun. We know, because we’ve repaired plenty of teeth damaged in the dark by popcorn.
This is not a comprehensive list of foods that can harm teeth. There are other culprits such as hard candies, potato chips and citrus fruits. But these are all foods that will require professional attention when things go wrong. Our team at Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert wants you to remember that your teeth are vital to your overall health. Twice yearly checkups and cleanings will help us help you keep a healthy mouth and a brilliant smile. Call us today for an appointment, and don’t forget to brush and floss. Bon appetit!