We all know foods like candy can create cavities, and red wines can stain your teeth, Nosferatu-style.
But there are a fair amount of – seemingly harmless, but surprisingly bad – foods that can have your oral hygiene on par with Austin Powers.
Avoid these 7 foods that have unexpected teeth-damaging properties, as outlined by dentists:
To be clear, there’s actually nothing bad about the seed itself for your chompers – it’s the hull of the seed that’s the issue, says Tyrone Rodriguez, DDS, a dentist in Washington State.
“The fact that it has a hard, outer shell, and you’re trying to bite through that shell, that can cause damage,” explains Rodriguez. He’s dealt with multiple patients who’ve cracked their teeth – yes, cracked – from biting sunflower seed hulls.
If you need sunflower seeds in your life, or you play baseball regularly, opt for hulled seeds.
Avoid adding the drink fresheners in beverage, dentists warn. It tends to lead to ice chewing, which is a bad call considering both tooth enamel and ice are comprised of crystals, explains Matthew Messina, DDS, a dentist based in Fairview Park, Ohio.
“When you push two crystals against each other with enough force, one is going to break,” he explains.
Rodriguez has a different spin to it: “If ice can damage highways, imagine what it can do to your teeth.”
Hard to argue with that logic.
Flavored waters and seltzer
Remember: flavouring that’s sugar-free doesn’t mean it’s acid free, says Rodriguez. Select flavoured waters can contain citric acid, which is on the Most Wanted list for rampant enamel erosion.
“Once your enamel gets worn away, it will never come back,” adds Genaro Romo, DDS, a dentist based in Chicago.
Without enamel, your teeth lack a protective barrier, leaving them vulnerable to cavities, decay, sensitivity, and chips.
Dried fruit may be rich in fiber and vitamins, but they have their negatives, too.
“When you pull the water out, what’s left behind is concentrated sugar and acid, and the fruit itself becomes a lot stickier,” Rodriguez explains.
Fruits like cherries and raisins can get embedded between teeth, allowing bacteria in your mouth to go to work and feast on the sugar deposits. Bacteria leads to acid production, which will dissolve the protective enamel safeguarding your teeth.
Sure, gummy vitamins are rich in…vitamins, but the sweet and sticky variant isn’t much better for your teeth than candy.
Rodriguez recommends the chewable, or even liquid, versions instead: “You can take a few drops and add it to beverages or food.”
If all you’re looking for is electrolyte replenishment, sports drinks are the most efficient method of refueling.
But they’re also loaded with sugar.
“It’s one thing to have a sports drink every once in a while,” says Romo. “But if [it’s part of your] daily workout routine, read the ingredients—you’d be surprised at some of these drinks, how much sugar they have.
“I always tell my patients to go with the safest thing, which is water. Water is all you really need.”
Sugar and stains aside, alcohol leaves you with dry mouth, which makes your teeth more prone to cavities.
“There’s a reason why your mouth salivates,” says Romo. “[Saliva] washes your mouth, it keeps everything clean, and it neutralizes the mouth so it’s not acidic.”
You don’t have to nix booze entirely from your diet, but like everything on this list, moderation is key.
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