We all want to eat a healthy diet. But, we all indulge occasionally. This is not a bad thing, but some of these indulgences can put you at a higher risk for time and treatment costs to repair the damage they can do to your smile.
Consumables that have a higher potential to damage teeth and increase your risk for gum disease include:
• Citrus & highly-acidic foods and beverages: Adding lemon or lime to our drinking water may seem healthy, but the acidity in citrus (including oranges, grapefruit, etc.) can erode tooth enamel. This leaves them more susceptible to decay. And, it’s not just tart-tasting fruits that come with this risk. Tomatoes or tomato-based foods (spaghetti sauce, catsup, BBQ sauce, etc.) have a highly acidic effect on tooth enamel.
• Wine: Many people are surprised to see wine on this list. Wine is supposed to be good for you in a number of ways. It is, but the way it is consumed creates a particular problem for your teeth. Anytime you eat or drink, your mouth undergoes an acid attack. This is actually the first stage of your digestive process. However, this acid can soften tooth enamel, leaving it more vulnerable to decay. Sipping wine over a period of time means that the mouth has a long, drawn-out surge of this acid. Coupled with the acidity of wine, you get a double-whammy that puts teeth at a higher risk for decay.
• Sugar & Carbs: Americans over-consume sugar-laden treats and tend to be carbohydrate lovers. Oral bacteria love these foods because they super-charge their ability to reproduce. And, because many of these foods stick to teeth longer, their damage potential is much higher.
• Caffeine: Caffeinated beverages include coffee, tea, colas, and many energy drinks. Even those without sugar do your smile no good. The reason? Caffeine dries out oral tissues in the mouth. With a drier mouth, oral bacteria are not being rinsed out of the mouth efficiently. This creates an environment where they can breed and thrive more readily. And, bacterial growth is the source of the majority of problems in the mouth. The next time you sense bad breath when your mouth is dry, remember that it’s because oral bacteria are running rampant.
• Alcohol: While not caffeinated, alcoholic beverages are also drying to oral tissues.
• Snacks: As mentioned prior, every time you eat or drink, an acid attack begins in the mouth. Thus, every time you sip on a cola or pop a pretzel in your mouth, this is what occurs. When your mouth is undergoing continual acid attacks throughout the day, imagine the damage that can have on your precious tooth enamel.
My belief is this: Once people know what is bad for their smiles, it may trigger a little voice in the back of their minds that says, “You know, that cola isn’t doing your smile any favors.” Then, they are able to take proactive measures to prevent costly repairs. These include:
– Wait to brush: After eating or drinking, wait 20-30 minutes so the acid attack in your mouth subsides. Otherwise, the abrasiveness of your tooth brush or tooth paste can wear down tooth enamel.
– Rinse with water: In between each cup of coffee or glass of wine, drink some water and let it wash over teeth before swallowing. If possible, swish with water in the bathroom.
– Combine sweets with meals: Want a Snickers or cupcake? Rather than eat them as snacks, have them as dessert immediately following your meal. Since your mouth is already undergoing an acid attack, this merely prolongs it a bit rather than sparks a new one.
– Brush, floss and maintain regular dental check-ups: Daily home care and regular dental cleanings and exams are your best ways to prevent problems from occurring.
Our goal is to help you REDUCE your need for dental repairs! Begin with an examination so, together, we can help you achieve and maintain a confident, healthy smile. Call 1-866-9-Smiles to schedule.