Best and worst food for your teeth
Eat for a healthy smile
Prevention is the best medicine for your smile. Although fillings, crowns, and professional whitening can make your teeth stronger and brighter, it’s better (and cheaper!) to avoid cavities and stains in the first place, by brushing, flossing, and—last but not least—eating right. As the following guide explains, the food we eat can have a big impact on our teeth. All The Great Foods For Your Teeth
Fortunately, foods like candy that don’t always play nice with our teeth are generally harmless in moderation. “It’s when we excessively use one thing that [it] can become a problem,” says Matthew Messina, an Ohio-based dentist and spokesman for the American Dental Association.
Citrus fruits and juice a rich source of vitamin C and other nutrients are good for you in many ways, but not when it comes to your teeth. Grapefruit and lemon juice, in particular, are highly acidic and can erode tooth enamel over time. In a 2008 study that involved soaking pulled teeth in various citrus juices, those two caused the most damage. Orange juice caused the least.
OJ is less acidic, Messina points out, and many store-bought varieties are also fortified with teeth-friendly calcium and vitamin D. “Fortified OJ is good for you on many levels,” he says. “Drink it, but brush and floss as recommended.”
The stickier the candy, the worse it tends to be for your teeth. Extra-chewy candies like taffy, caramels, or jelly fruits stick to (and between) teeth for a long time, allowing the bacteria in our mouths to feast leisurely on the deposited sugar. “Bacteria burns sugar to make acid, which dissolves the protective layer of tooth enamel and causes cavities,” Messina explains.
Candies that are chewy, sugary, and acidic a category that includes many “sour” varieties deliver a “triple whammy of negatives,” Messina adds, because they carry their own payload of erosive acid, in addition to that produced by the interaction of sugar and bacteria.
Hard candies such as Jolly Ranchers don’t cling to your teeth as readily as chewy candy, but they have their own downside: Unlike, say, chocolate-based sweets, which are chewed quickly and wash away relatively easily, hard candy dissolves slowly and saturates your mouth for several minutes at a time, giving bacteria more time to produce harmful acid. To make matters worse, many varieties of hard candy are flavored with citric acid.
Besides, if you bite down wrong on some hard candies, they can chip your teeth something no amount of brushing or flossing can repair. They don’t call jawbreakers for nothing!All The Great Foods For Your Teeth
It’s no secret that drinking too many sugary sodas can breed cavities. What’s less well-known is that the acids found in carbonated soft drinks appear to harm teeth even more than the sugar. Even sugar-free diet sodas like Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi which both contain citric and phosphoric acid can enamel if consumed in large doses.
If you can’t do without soda, your best bet is to drink it during a meal, rather than sipping it throughout the day. The food will help neutralize the acid, Messina says, and “the time of exposure to the acid is much shorter.”
If you’re in the mood for something sweet or fizzy, sports drinks and energy drinks may seem like a good alternative to soda. But Gatorade or Red Bull won’t do your teeth any favors, either. These beverages are acidic, too, and are potentially even more damaging to teeth.
In a 2008 study, researchers at the University of Iowa measured enamel wear after steeping teeth in several different beverages for 25 hours. Lemon-lime Gatorade resulted in the most wear, followed by Red Bull, Coke, and Diet Coke.
Here’s a rule of thumb: Anything that will “get [you] yelled at if you spill it on a white table cloth” will also stain your teeth, Messina says. That means red wine, which contains substances known as chromogens that produce tooth-discoloring pigments. What’s more, the tannins in red wine tend to dry out the mouth and make teeth sticky, worsening stains.
But even white wine can contribute to staining. Reds and whites both contain erosive acid, allowing stains from other foods or drinks to penetrate more deeply. A 2009 study found that cow’s teeth soaked in black tea were more susceptible to staining if they were soaked in white wine (versus water) beforehand. Foods For Your Teeth
Sugar-free gum helps clean teeth by stimulating the production of saliva. Saliva is nature’s way of washing away acids produced by the bacteria in your mouth, and it also bathes the teeth in bone-strengthening calcium and phosphate. In addition, many varieties of sugarless gum are sweetened with xylitol, an alcohol that reduces bacteria.
You might want to stick with mint flavors, however. One 2011 study suggests that the acid used to create certain fruit flavors could damage teeth, though only slightly. “Anything we taste as sour is more acidic, but we’re getting so much good out of the saliva flow, I could live with that,” Messina says.
How to reverse the damage
Now that you know which foods can stain or weaken your teeth, it’s time to focus on those that can help prevent or even reverse this dental damage. The good news is, if you eat a healthy diet you’re probably already getting plenty of them, since many of the same foods that are good for our bodies in general like vegetables are also good for our teeth. All The Great Foods For Your Teeth