Pretty much everyone knows brushing and flossing are essential at-home habits for maintaining a beautiful smile. But good oral hygiene goes beyond your tooth care routine. It includes your diet, too.
Abir Faraj, DDS, of Novi Family Dentistry in Novi, Michigan, makes at-home oral health a priority for her patients, and that includes helping them make wise dietary choices for healthier teeth and more beautiful smiles. Here are eight foods she and her team want you to either avoid or eat with care.
OK, really any kind of sugary candy is bad for your teeth, but hard and chewy types are among the worst. Chewy candies, such as salt water taffy or toffee, can stick between your teeth and expose them to sugar for hours after you’ve enjoyed their sweet goodness.
And when it comes to hard candies, biting or chewing on them can increase your risk of cracking, chipping, or breaking your teeth. Plus, both types of candy are bad news for restorations, such as fillings, bridges, and crowns.
Sodas and energy drinks are chock full of sugars and acids, both of which are bad for your tooth health. Acids eat away at the hard layer of enamel that protects your teeth from bacteria, making it easier for decay-causing germs to attack the tooth structure. At the same time, sugars feed the bacteria that cause those cavities.
While many dried fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals, the sticky, chewy nature of dried fruits can actually damage your teeth.
Chewy, sticky foods can loosen some types of restorations, especially if you eat those foods regularly. Furthermore, dried fruits are full of natural fruit sugars in concentrated form. Sugars are a favorite food source of cavity-causing bacteria. Because dried fruit can easily get stuck between your teeth, your enamel may be in close contact with those sugars for hours.
This doesn’t mean you have to cut out dried fruits altogether. If you eat some, just make sure to floss and rinse right after. If you can’t floss, rinse them thoroughly with warm water to help dislodge the particles and rinse away the sugary residue.
Jerky is another sticky, chewy food that tends to leave tiny particles between your teeth. Some jerky is preserved with acidic compounds that can weaken tooth enamel. As with dried fruit, rinse thoroughly after eating jerky, and use floss when possible to remove the particles left behind.
While you likely know that fried potato chips aren’t good for your waistline, you may not know that they're not great for your teeth, either.
Potato chips are full of carbohydrates, a kind of sugar. They can leave a lot of starch between your teeth and around fillings and other restorations, increasing your risk of developing cavities.
Whether they’re hard or chewy, the biting and chewing involved in eating these bars can damage your teeth in much the same way as hard candies or dried fruit. In fact, some harder bars can even irritate your gums.
But beyond that, most of these bars contain sugars in the form of dried fruit, honey, or even chocolate chips, all of which can increase your risk of developing tooth decay. Bars containing nuts — especially hard nuts, such as almonds — can also be bad news, because they can cause tiny cracks or outright breaks in your teeth or restorations.
Citrus fruits are high in acids. When those acids come into contact with the surfaces of your teeth, they can weaken tooth enamel and make it easier for decay-causing bacteria to take hold.
Like dried fruits, citrus fruits offer plenty of health benefits, so you certainly don’t want to avoid them entirely. Instead, rinse well after consuming citrus to neutralize the effects of the acid.
Both of these frozen treats contain sugars and acids that can feed cavity-causing bacteria. Another potential problem: Biting frozen treats — or even plain ice — can increase your risk of cracking or breaking your teeth.
At-home care is essential for good oral health, and so are regular dental visits. If it’s been a while since your last dental checkup, don’t put it off any longer. Call 248-418-4542 or book an appointment online with Novi Family Dentistry today.