Prevention is the best medicine for a healthy smile. Although crowns, fillings and even professional whitening can make your teeth stronger and brighter, it’s better (and less expensive) to avoid stains and cavities altogether, by following an effective oral hygiene regimen and eating right.
The biggest offenders usually fall into three categories: hard substances that weaken enamel, liquids that dry out the mouth and sugars that increase cavity-causing acids.
So, do you need to give up all your favorite foods and beverages to have a healthy smile for life?
No, not at all, but reducing or eliminating these top offenders can help you avoid problems down the road:
Despite its health-food status, dried fruit can wreak havoc on your teeth. While all fruit contains natural sugar, it’s composition changes once the water has been expunged. What you’re left with in a highly-concentrated dose of sugar that clings to your teeth and traps acid-producing bacteria. It’s a good idea to avoid raisins, dried prunes, apricots and any other fruit that is in a dried form.
For some, the best part of drinking any icy beverage is crunching their way through the ice cubes once the drink is done. Most dentists agree that chewing ice is a BIG no-no. Not only does chewing ice create microfractures in your teeth’s enamel, but you could break your part of your tooth off.
Who would have thought that biting into that French baguette was bad for your teeth? Once you start chewing bread the enzymes found in your saliva break down the starches, which are then converted into sugar immediately. As you continue to chew, white bread and other types of starch like pasta become a sweet, soft that easily sticks into the crevices between your teeth. This then becomes a prime breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria. Crunchy snacks like pretzels and potato chips are also likely to get caught in tooth grooves, creating a similar problem.
Everyone knows what drinking too much alcohol does to their livers, but did you know that overindulging can cause cavities? Alcohol works as a diuretic, which is why you feel so horrid after consuming more than the recommended daily amount. But people who drink excessively often have reduced saliva production, which over time, can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Caffeinated beverages, including energy drinks, can also dry out your mouth, which can also cause cavities.
Candy and tooth decay go together like peanut butter and jelly, but did you know that certain types of candy are worse than others? Sour candy is very acidic, which can break down tooth enamel. And if you think brushing immediately after you devour a box of Sour Patch Kids is going to erase the damage, the truth is, you could be making matters worse. Brushing too soon after eating sour candy can also brush off the enamel that has started to break down on your teeth’s surface.
Proper nutrition and eating a well-balanced diet are important for both your overall health and oral health. To keep your teeth healthy, be mindful of your diet and remember to see your dentist regularly.