Healthy teeth are highly durable and resistant to damage; in fact, tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body! This doesn’t mean that teeth are immune to damage, though. There are lots of things that can compromise your teeth and enamel.
Here are a few seemingly harmless foods that can cause major oral health issues in the short and long term.
Hard Candy. As you probably already know, sugar is not your best friend when it comes to keeping your mouth healthy. That’s not the main reason hard candy is dangerous for your teeth, though. Sucking on a lollipop or Jolly Rancher is fine, but if you bite into hard candy, you could end up chipping or cracking your tooth. This means you can go from a sweet treat to a dental emergency quick! If you tend to bite into hard candy, try to opt for different sweets whenever possible.
Popcorn Kernels. As you may know, this is another food that has the potential to chip or crack your teeth. So baby your teeth and be careful when eating this classic movie theater snack. If a piece of popcorn doesn’t look fully popped, don’t chance it. Those hard kernels are not your friend – no matter how good they taste, and how much fun they are to crunch between your teeth!
Ice. Some people like to chew on ice to keep their mouth busy. This is another habit that is not great for your teeth – but I know it’s also hard to avoid for people who love to chomp on ice chunks. Just like the foods listed above, ice can chip or crack teeth and damage your gums. It can also overwork your jaw muscles and could cause them to feel sore or tender.
High Sugar Drinks. If you like to have a soda, energy drink, or fruit juice to sip on throughout the day, you are continuously bathing your teeth in sugar and acid. These drinks are fine in small doses, but it’s important to clean your teeth afterwards to clear the harmful sugar and acid from your mouth. If you sip on sugary drinks all day, the bacteria in your mouth will have a constant food supply. Overgrown bacteria in the mouth can cause cavities, gum disease, and other health conditions. So try to switch out your sugary drinks for water – when you can – to improve your oral and overall health.
Chewy, Sticky Foods. Foods like caramel, taffy, or even dried fruits can stick to teeth long after you’re done munching. The sugar in these foods then stays in contact with the surface of your teeth for a long period of time, encouraging bacteria to eat away at your enamel. Over time, this can contribute to tooth decay and the development of cavities.
Potato Chips. Starchy foods like potato chips can get stuck between your teeth and harbor bacteria. While these aren’t technically a high-sugar food, the carbohydrates still break down into sugars that bacteria can eat.
The moral of the story is to brush your teeth after eating high-sugar foods whenever possible, and avoid foods that could cause trauma to your teeth. By controlling how much sugar is in your mouth, and how often sugar is in contact with your teeth and gums, you are controlling the harmful bacteria and keeping it from growing out of control.
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