Proper food is important for maintaining a healthy body. Foods can affect every part of the body including the mouth. Certain foods increase the risk of developing plaque and cause damage to the teeth and gums. Plaque is a thin sticky film of bacteria that develops on the surface of the teeth. If it is not removed, it can cause tooth decay. The bacteria present in the plaque produce acids which destroy the tooth surface and cause cavities.
Dental cavities are very common and are found in all age groups. In cultures that do not consume sugars and eat more raw fruits or vegetables the prevalence of dental cavities is less. However, dental cavities are very common the developed world. Dental cavities can cause pain and also lead to loss of teeth. Plaque can also harden into tartar which can cause gingivitis or gum disease. Studies also indicate that dental cavities and gum disease, if left untreated, can lead to cardiovascular problems. The best way to prevent dental problems is by brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing regularly and using a medicated mouthwash.
There are also certain foods that are bad for your teeth. These foods are best avoided. Here are eight foods that are bad for your teeth:
Alcoholic drinks: It is well known that alcohol is bad for health. It can damage the liver and cause cancer. People who consume alcohol are also at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular problems. Alcohol is also not good for the teeth. It makes the mouth dry by reducing the secretion of saliva. Saliva washes away food particles stuck on the teeth and reduces bacterial growth. It also repairs damage to the teeth surfaces and prevents gum disease. Therefore, taking alcohol regularly can increase the risk of dental problems. You can reduce the risk of dental problems by drinking plenty of water after taking alcohol and by using a mouthwash.
Bread: When you eat bread, it breaks down into a gum-like substance in the mouth. This substance sticks to the tooth surfaces and gets entrapped in the gaps. This encourages plaque formation and dental cavities. Bread is also rich in carbohydrates and is not a good option if you are looking to cut down carbs. Brown bread is a better option. It is made from whole wheat and contains less added sugars. It is also rich in roughage which is beneficial for your digestive system.
Potato chips: It is a well known fact that potato chips are not good for health. They are aptly called ‘junk food’. However, most of us cannot control the urge to tear open a packet of potato chips and gobble them up because they are so satisfying. Potato chips are full of starch and fat. The starch gets converted to sugars in the mouth which encourage bacterial growth and lead to dental cavities. Potato chips should be taken only once in a while. You should brush your teeth and rinse with a mouthwash immediately after eating chips.
Soda: Carbonated drinks are acidic and cause direct damage to the tooth surface. Studies indicate the extent of damage caused by carbonated drinks is the same as that of methamphetamine or crack cocaine. Drinking carbonated soda coats the surfaces of the teeth in acid and promotes bacterial plaque. Carbonated drinks also make the mouth dry and reduce saliva secretion. The colors present in soda also stain the teeth and cause discoloration. Carbonated drinks are best avoided if you want to have a healthy mouth.
Dry fruits: Dry fruits are a healthy snack. However, they are also sticky and loaded with sugars. This makes them bad for your teeth. Dry fruits such as raisins, apricots, figs, dates, etc. get stuck in the gaps of the teeth and increase the likelihood of dental cavities. If you must eat dry fruits, you should rinse your mouth immediately afterwards. Fresh fruits are a better alternative to dry fruits because they contain sugars in lower concentrations.
Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons are rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants and are highly beneficial for your health. However, they contain acid which can cause damage to the teeth surface and increase the risk of dental cavities. Even a lime juice cordial can increase the risk of dental problems. However, you should not avoid citrus fruits altogether. The health benefits they provide far outweigh their disadvantages. You can take citrus fruits in moderation or at mealtime along with other foods. You can also rinse your mouth after taking citrus fruits to minimize their side effects.
Candy: Candies are made of sugar which is responsible for formation of plaque. Candies are chewy and stick to the teeth surfaces. Even brushing or flossing may not dislodge the candy stuck to the teeth. Sour candy is particularly bad for your teeth. In addition to sugar, it also contains acids–a combination that is totally bad for the teeth. The next time, you feel like grabbing a sour candy, just keep in mind that it is not good for your teeth. Chocolates are a better alternative to candies. They wash away easily and do not encourage plaque formation. They also have other health benefits as they are rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavanols.
Ice and cold foods: Ice and cold foods can damage the enamel and increase the risk of dental cavities. Ice is hard and when chewed can result in chipped, cracked or broken teeth. Ice is also the enemy or crowns and dental fillings. You can use ice to cool drinks and beverages but you should never chew the ice directly. They same applies for other cold foods that are hard.