In our daily routine, we mix a healthy diet with unhealthy food on and off.
After all, not everyone has the time to cook vegetables and red meats.
So why not munch on snack foods such as, french fries, chocolates and sodas.
While eating and drinking such foods and drinks may not seem detrimental to your health, you are well aware that it is.
They not only cause obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure but also harm your oral health.
Did you not think that far?
Your diet can certainly damage your teeth and gums in the long run.
This article discusses how consuming some food items can be detrimental to your oral health. Keep reading to know more.
What Does Unhealthy Food Do to Your Teeth?
Food that is unhealthy for your oral health harms your teeth, gums and mouth.
Commonly they can cause:
However, if you do not address the signs leading to these problems (such as plaque) then these can worsen.
In fact, then you are at risk of getting gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Therefore, even if you limit these food products, you should still maintain your oral hygiene.
Essentially, no food group can be called unhealthy.
While you need proteins, vitamins, minerals, you also need carbohydrates, sugars and fats.
Hence, a balanced diet helps you reap the benefits of each group without causing much harm.
Therefore, you should not completely give up on sugary or starchy food but limit their intake in your diet.
This will help prevent their harm and keep you overall healthy.
Your oral health impacts your entire health.
Good oral health prevents cardiovascular disease and other health problems.
Teeth allow you to eat, swallow and speak properly.
Therefore, if you maintain good oral hygiene you can not only protect your teeth but also your overall physical condition.
Sugary and Dried Foods
While sugary foods are generally not good for your oral health, some of these are worse than others.
Bacteria break down sugars into acids.
They stick to your teeth and even get stuck in the crevices of your teeth.
Chewy and sticky candies are worse as they will remain stuck between your teeth and in the services.
Therefore, it gives bacteria a feeding ground to feed on the sugars, produce acids and that acid happens to erode the enamel.
Enamel erosion can further lead to decay forming holes in your teeth.
Moreover, as your enamel erodes, it exposes the dentin.
Your teeth will discolor making them appear yellow.
The likes of lollipops, jellies and hard candies are worse than eating chocolate.
Saliva does not wash chewy and hard foods as easily as it washes away chocolate.
Hence, they stay on your teeth for a longer time.
You will have to brush your teeth after eating these sugary foods as saliva alone cannot wash it off.
Food items high in sugar content such as cookies and pies are more likely to cause you to decay.
Your daily sugar intake should not exceed 30 grams per day.
Sugars should only compose 5 to 10 percent of your daily calories.
Similarly, dried fruits are also sticky.
When prunes, apricots and figs are dried they lose their water content.
Besides they also become sticky.
Hence, they remain on the crevices of teeth attracting bacteria causing cavities.
The fresh version of these fruits is less sugary and healthier.
So eat fresh fruit rather than juice, fast foods and junk foods.
Limit Sugar Foods such as:
- Sour candies
- Jelly beans
- Hard candy
- Cookies and other desserts
Limit dried fruits such as:
Starchy Foods and Citrus Fruits
Oranges and grapefruits contain lots of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
They are rich in Vitamin C and are an essential component of a healthy diet.
However, they are not the most ideal to eat regularly because of their high acidic content.
These acids result in your wearing down your enamel.
Though, it is not healthy to entirely cut down lemon, lime, grapefruits and other acidic fruits.
Hence, you should eat them occasionally and remember to rinse your mouth afterward.
Starchy foods like crackers, bread and potato chips seemingly look fine.
However, they too convert into sugars and then acids inside the mouth.
The bacteria feeding on the sugars release acids that linger on your teeth for long causing the enamel to erode.
Furthermore, crackers and biscuits contain refined carbohydrates.
Research suggests that eating more refine carbohydrates contributes to inflammation.
Therefore, it can result in mouth diseases such as gingivitis and periodontal disease.
You should look for alternatives such as whole wheat bran bread (not white flour) or crackers with less added sugar.
Limit Starch foods such as:
- White Bread
- Potato chips or crisps
Limit Citrus Fruits such as:
Unhealthy Drinks for Oral Health
Drinking water is the safest and best drink for your oral health.
Though, we are likely to drink other beverages such as coffee, fruit juices, and sodas.
All of them pose oral health problems.
However, even if they are sugar-free, they are not entirely risk-free.
This is because they certainly contain acids.
They will cause enamel erosion and increase the risk of getting cavities and tooth decay.
Moreover, they also allow plaque to release more acids hence further damaging your teeth.
Let’s not forget that those sodas that are dark in color will also stain your teeth.
Unlike you may think, they do not quench your thirst.
Rather they can exacerbate dryness in your mouth by decreasing saliva.
Remember that you should never brush your teeth immediately after drinking carbonated drinks.
The acids in the drinks, along with the abrasives in the toothpaste do not make for a good combination.
Wait a while before brushing teeth so that the saliva washes down some of the acids.
Coffee and Tea
Tannins in coffee and tea can stick to your teeth.
These can wear down the enamel.
Moreover, both these drinks can stain your teeth.
As tannins stick to teeth and plaque accumulates on them, they will slowly give your teeth a yellow hue.
However, this will be extrinsic discoloration as you can only see it on the surfaces of teeth.
Excessively drinking them can also stain your mouth.
Pure fruit juices contain more sugar content than fruits themselves.
Do not consider them equivalent.
Fruit juices can cause cavities while eating the same fruit may not.
If you do want to drink them, then take only our fruit juices with no added sugar during meals.
Alcoholic beverages are acidic and result in dry mouth.
Both red wine and white wine contain highly erosive acids that can damage the enamel.
Furthermore, red wine also contains tannins that can stick to your teeth, staining them red-purple.
Besides they lower saliva in the mouth which gives rise to plaque and bacteria.
Alcoholic drinks can cause mouth sores, gingivitis and cavities.
Therefore, reducing your alcohol intake is the best option.
Drink fruit juices or sodas with meals.
However, it is best to limit alcoholic beverages, sodas, coffee and tea.
Other Unhealthy Food for Your Oral Health
Condiments add flavor to your food but do not make them a staple in your diet as some of them are acidic.
Pasta sauce, tomato ketchup, balsamic vinegar and apple cider vinegar are not the best foods for your teeth.
Tomatoes are acidic and while they are healthy and not the worst foods to eat generally, they are not great for teeth.
A red pasta sauce is usually made of tomatoes therefore the carbs of the pasta and acids of tomatoes can be detrimental to your teeth.
Similarly, apple cider vinegar has a high acidic content.
It can lead to a very quick erosion of the enamel.
Moreover, balsamic vinegar can stain teeth.
This is due to its pigment as well as its acidic content.
Similarly, soy sauce also has a deep pigment and regular use can cause staining.
Sour pickles are a delight to eat.
Though, your teeth may not be as happy as you, when you eat them.
This is due to the fact that pickles are stored in acidic vinegar.
Hence, the acid cause erosion but also staining.
Surprisingly some pickled foods are not only sour and savory but also sweet.
That goes to say they contain sugars, which again aren’t the best for your oral health.
Ice is meant to cool your drinks rather than chewed solely.
You may think that it’s plainly frozen water, why would it harm your teeth?
Well, you are underestimating the solid-state of ice.
It is pretty hard and chewing on something this hard can cause your teeth to crack, fracture or break.
In the worst case, you end up losing a tooth.
You should clearly not chew on ice and prevent your child from doing so too.
Reducing Harm of Unhealthy Food
It is not impossible to limit the harm these food items cause to your teeth.
First, you need to limit their intake.
Fewer sugars, fewer carbs, fewer drinks, less citrus and acidic foods.
If you control their amount at the right time, you do not have to avoid them for life.
Read labels in processed foods and when you eat junk food to check for the content of high fructose corn syrup and other sugars.
Furthermore, make a routine and only think these foods with healthy meals.
A healthy diet of proteins, fats, and carbs will keep maintaining the salivary flow in your mouth and is good for weight loss.
(Remember that you should take healthy fats rather than saturated fats and trans fats.)
As there is good salivary flow in your mouth while eating meals, you can eat a dessert, drink juice or soda with your meal.
This way they get washed down by the saliva with the rest of the food posing less harm to your dental health.
Furthermore, take drinks with a straw to limit contact with teeth.
While you should keep your oral hygiene on point, do not brush or floss immediately after an acidic drink or food item.
Let your saliva work on the acids first and after a while brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste.
However, if consuming these foods has decreased your salivary flow then consult your dentist for a salivary stimulant or constantly drink water and take chewing gum.
Unhealthy food for your teeth is also not good for your body.
Hence, you should start limiting them.
Even if they don’t show their detrimental effects right now, they will in the future.