When it comes to your dental health, you know some things already. Sugar is a problem. You need to brush and floss regularly. You should visit our dentists in Bridgeport or Shelton every six months for dental cleanings and dental exams.
However, it’s hard to know everything. Not only does dental health evolve as we do more research, there are often competing studies out there that confuse matters. To help you and your family have better dental health, here are several common foods and drinks that have hidden dangers to your teeth and gums.
- Alcohol can increase your risk of cavities and gum disease. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes your body to lose water. However, the alcohol in beer, wine, and mixed drinks also dries out your mouth. That’s a problem for your teeth and gums, because it means you will have much less saliva in your mouth. Saliva helps wash away food particles used by harmful bacteria to grow and thrive. When you drink alcohol, more food particles will stay in your mouth. That means more harmful bacteria, which means a worse risk for cavities and gum disease.
- Dark foods and drinks can stain your white teeth. We all love pasta sauce, coffee, and tea. But whenever you enjoy these, a tiny amount gets trapped on your teeth. Your enamel has plenty of very small grooves and pockets where food gets trapped. It’s a very small amount, but as the years pass by, they start to add up. Before you know it, your once-white teeth are now dark and dingy.
- Chewing on ice can damage your enamel. Lots of people like to chew on ice cubes or crushed ice. It’s cool, and the texture can be fun to experience. However, all forms of ice are incredibly tough. It takes a lot of pressure to crack ice, and that can hurt your teeth in two ways. First, ice cracks suddenly. It’s likely that your teeth will suddenly come crashing together, possibly damaging your enamel. Second, the ice itself is hard enough to wear down your enamel.
- Fruit juices and sports drinks can increase your chances of cavities and gum disease. Sugar doesn’t cause cavities directly. Cavities are caused by harmful bacteria living on your teeth. When the bacteria live on your gums instead, they can cause gum disease. These bacteria need food just like any living thing. They can survive on just about everything you eat, but they are very fond of sugar and carbohydrates. Fruit juice is high in sugar, and sports drinks are usually high in carbohydrates. Both these drinks can give harmful bacteria the food they need to grow out of control. When that happens, your chance of getting gum disease and cavities increases a lot.
- Regular soda can lead to cavities, but diet soda can erode your enamel. Because sugar feeds the bacteria behind tooth decay and gum disease, regular soda is bad for your teeth. Most people already know that. Many think that diet soda is better. There’s no sugar in it, so isn’t that better? True, but diet soda also has a lot of acid. The acid in diet soda gives it a tart taste, but it also corrodes the enamel on your teeth. In fact, a loose tooth submerged in diet soda will start to develop lots of problems.
- Sticky foods like PB&J can linger on your teeth and feed harmful bacteria. If you drink soda or fruit juice, rinsing with plain water afterward can help. That’s because water will help wash away some of the food in your mouth. However, some foods are literally sticky and can easily coat your teeth. Peanut butter and jelly, the classic snack, is one of the biggest culprits. Both the jelly and peanut butter can get stuck on your teeth and gums. Since these are also high in sugar, you’ll end up getting dinner delivery for the harmful bacteria in your mouth.
- Popcorn can either get stuck between your teeth or hurt your enamel. Popcorn is often touted as a healthy snack. When you get it without all of that butter and salt, that’s true. However, it can still be bad for your dental health. Popcorn is a carbohydrate, which again feeds the bacteria behind gum disease and cavities. Since popcorn can easily get stuck between your teeth, that’s an even greater concern. Then there’s always some unpopped kernels in a bag of popcorn. Kernels are very hard, and biting down on them can cause damage to your enamel.
Contact either of our two Connecticut offices — Bridgeport/Trumbull at 203-372-1220 or Shelton at 203-378-9737 — or schedule an appointment online to learn more about how you can help your whole family have healthier teeth and gums.