If you look at the food aisle today nearly every product label has some mention of nutritional value. Low fat! Sugar free! Good source of calcium! With so much attention focused on what foods are healthy and unhealthy for you, often forgotten is what foods affect your oral health. Unless you’re in a dentist office you’re probably not giving too much thought to the different ways that food and drinks can affect your teeth, but the things we eat and drink every day all have an impact.
Here we share 12 foods that can negatively affect your oral health—and they aren’t all unhealthy foods either.
Does this mean we are taking what little food is actually okay to eat away from you? That is definitely not our intention. We hope to make you aware of the foods that can negatively affect your oral health and offer ways to minimize those effects.
1. Apples. Surprised? Apples can be both beneficial and harmful to your oral health if you aren’t careful. See Health Benefits of Apples for a full list of health benefits. And while apples contribute great healthful benefits and produce saliva that helps wash away food particles and kills bacteria, they also contain a lot of acid, which can contribute to enamel erosion if not consumed carefully. As the article points out, you should drink water and brush your teeth after eating these fruits.
2. Citrus Fruits. These fruits are often full of acids that can strip your teeth. Definitely rinse your mouth out thoroughly after eating any citrus fruits.
3. Canned Fruit. Canned fruit is typically stuffed with extra sugar—mostly found in the syrup—which we know is bad for our teeth. When choosing canned fruit, search for fruit in light syrup.
4. Bread. Bread negatively affects your oral health for three reasons:
- Breads contain sugar, which can produce mouth bacteria.
- Bread is sticky and can get behind and in between your teeth.
- Toasted bread can often be too hard on your teeth, which can lead to broken teeth. Avoid tough crusts and stick to lightly toasted bread.
Additionally, when eating bread, make sure you floss afterward and rinse your mouth out with water so there aren’t any food particles that get left behind.
5. Popcorn. How many of us always have to have a bucket of popcorn at the movies? Quite a few, I’d guess. This buttery snack is actually well known for getting stuck in our teeth. When this happens, it produces bacteria in your mouth. Make sure you have some water handy when you are eating this delicious snack.
6. Potato Chips. While potato chips seem light and harmless, the extended period of time we spend chewing on this snack encourages the particles to get stuck between our teeth, producing bacteria. Again, you will want to floss and rinse your mouth out thoroughly after eating potato chips.
7. PB&J. This probably comes as no surprise, but peanut butter and jelly are very sticky substances, often made with plenty of sugar. These foods not only feed bacteria, but they make it easier for the bacteria to stick to our teeth. As a simple solution, search for natural peanut butters with no added sugar.
8. Vinegar. A high acidic ingredient used in many foods, like pickled vegetables and salad dressing, vinegar should be used in moderation. It can be a trigger for tooth decay.
9. Corn on the Cob. While a delicious side dish, biting into corn on the cob can crack or loosen fillings and sealants or damage wires and brackets used for braces. Also, for anyone with dentures, biting down on corn on the cob can dislodge your dentures. To prevent these things from happening, scrape off the corn before eating.
10. Pasta Sauce. The dark red color can leave stains on your teeth. When eating, drink plenty of water.
11. Meat. Meat is another chewy food—and one often containing some sugar—which can often get stuck between your teeth and sit there encouraging tooth decay. If you can’t brush your teeth after you eat this, chew sugar-less gum to help wash away the food particles left in your mouth.
12. Candy. Though everyone knows the amount of sugar in candy is bad for our teeth, hard and chewy candies are the most harmful because we keep them in our mouths for great lengths of time, and they can often get stuck in between our teeth. If you are craving some candy, choose dark chocolate instead because it is often the softest on teeth.
As you can see, if there was ever an example of why we need to floss and brush our teeth, this would be it. So many foods that we consume on a regular basis can negatively affect our oral health.
Here’s an infographic by Bright Side Dental & Orthodontics that explains more:
We need to make sure we are flossing and brushing our teeth daily, especially after we eat any of these foods. Wait at least 30 minutes to an hour after eating before you brush your teeth. You don’t want to brush the particles into your teeth and gums further. Instead, rinse your mouth out with water after eating any of these foods and wait the allotted time before going back and brushing your teeth. Remember to schedule your regular dental checkups throughout the year. Often dentists can reach areas we cannot, as explained in Preventing Diseases with Regular Dental Checkups.