Sweets and sticky foods like caramels, taffy and cookies are bad for your teeth.
That’s because they contain a lot sugar, and the bacteria in our mouth “eats” the sugar, produces a sticky acid that can cause tooth decay; especially when it adheres to teeth and isn’t brushed away.
But, sticky candy and sugary snacks aren’t the only common things that can lead to cavities in your teeth or other oral health problems.
1. Citrus fruits
Oranges, clementines and mandarins are a nutritious source of vitamin C, which is important for healthy gums. But citrus fruits are also highly acidic, which is an enemy to tooth enamel. Acid from citrus fruits can erode tooth enamel, making your teeth weaker and more susceptible to tooth decay.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should stop eating fruits. Instead, just be sure to avoid brushing your teeth for 30 minutes after eating. This helps avoid scraping off the softened enamel before it hardens by the minerals saliva, drink some water to dilute the acid, and use a fluoride toothpaste, the fluoride penetrates the surface of the enamel and makes it more resistant to the acid, from the fruit and the acid produced by the bacteria eating the sugar.
Don’t suck on a slice of citrus fruit since the direct and prolonged contact will cause the enamel to dissolve. I have had patients that like to suck on lemons and this caused the tooth to dissolve increasing sensitivities, needing costly crowns to be made to restore the shape and to make the smile look good again.
2. Crackers and potato chips
Although the these aren’t full of sugar per se, they are mostly carbohydrates, which breaks down to sugar molecules . What’s more, they tend to get trapped in and between the teeth and feed the bacteria increasing the plaque, which is acidic. The longer that teeth are exposed to the “food”, the easier it is for cavities to form.
Crackers and potato chips are very retentive and hard to remove during brushing as these foods tend to stick into the grooves of teeth. After eating chips or crackers, make sure to drink some water, brush to ensure they remove all the particles that are stuck on and between their teeth.
3. Pickled Vegetables
Pickles, or any pickled vegetable, can promote tooth decay because of the vinegar that’s used in the pickling process. Vinegar is very acidic, around the same acidity as lemons. Vinegar is known to weaken dental enamel, leading to loss of tooth minerals, and promote tooth decay. Enjoyed inside a sandwich or burger is safer, as they’ll have less contact with teeth that way.
As a snack, popcorn is a healthy choice (when it’s not loaded with butter, oil or salt). It’s made from whole grain corn, is high in fibre and contains beneficial antioxidants. But popcorn can be surprisingly problematic for your teeth, although not due to decay. The kernel shell can get stick between the tooth and gum and cause gum infections. Have dental floss handy eating popcorn to ensure there are no kernel fragments stuck between your teeth.
5. Ice cubes
This is not an actual snack, but a lot of people love chewing on them. Chewing on ice can weaken teeth, causing them to chip or fracture. What’s more, those small cracks or fractures can act as an entry point for bacteria, which increases the risk of cavities and increases tooth sensitivity. Also, this can cause a tooth to fracture and split resulting in tooth loss and/or costly replacement or repair.
6. Chewy lunch-bag snacks
Many chewy snacks are marketed as “healthy” since they may contain actual fruit. They’re still loaded with sugar and are prone to sticking to teeth. The sour kind are even worse as they combine the acidity, with the stickiness with the sugar! If your eating “gummy vitamins” they count as candy too. They are usually made with glucose syrup or sucrose, which is sugar. If you chew or suck one every morning, you could be harming their teeth. Look for sugar-free versions instead.