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Foods that are bad for your teeth

There are some foods that are especially harmful for your teeth and having these can lead to several problems.

Most of the foods that are mentioned on our list are common everyday foods that we consume without a thought. Dr Mukul Dabholkar, cosmetic dentist says, “Some foods can cause enamel erosion that could lead to increased teeth sensitivity to hot, cold, sweet and sour. Of course, these days you can suppress teeth sensitivity with certain toothpastes. But if your enamel damage worsens, the teeth become porous over a period of time and you develop cavity. You then need root canals and caps on them.”

The fact that once our teeth are damaged, no medicine can bring back them to their natural healthy state, is what is scary when it comes to tooth problems. Aesthetic dentist Dr Karishma Jaradi says that since one cannot stop eating these foods, it is essential that one should brush their teeth and rinse mouth thoroughly after eating them. Using a floss to remove remanents of food from between your teeth is recommended. Visiting your dentist regularly can control the damage done to your teeth because they can be saved from further harm. Dr Dabholkar says, “The main principle to protect your teeth is that sugar should stay in your mouth as briefly as possible.”

Candies, caramel, long-lasting sweets
Since hard candies stick and cling tenaciously to the surfaces of your teeth and also take a long time to dissolve, it is very harmful. Dr Dabholkar warns, “Hard sweets might probably crack a tooth when you bite into them.” Dr Jaradi adds, “It isn’t the amount of sugar taken which is d a m a g i n g but how often the intake is.”

Acidic foods
If you thought sucking on lemon wedges is a home-remedy for tooth whitening then you need to rethink, says Dr Dabholkar, because it is very harmful. He suggests that after eating oranges, lemons, tomatoes and grapefruit, teeth should be rinsed thoroughly.

Chewable pills
There are chewable vitamin tablets that have concentrated acids which harm teeth as they clings to them. Even health drinks and vitamin waters are bad for dental health.

Starchy foods
We tend to consume a lot of junk, starchy food without knowing the after-effects. Potato chips, white bread, pizza, pasta and burgers can easily get lodged between teeth and in the crevices between two teeth. Agreed they are not sweet nor sugary but the starch in these foods soon begin converting into sugar almost immediately because of the predigestive process that begins in our mouths. The sugar is harmful and our enamel starts becoming decalcified.

Sodas, sports drinks
Sugary drinks like carbonated beverages, sports drinks are especially bad for teeth if one has them regularly. Dr Jaradi says, “Soft drinks are the leading source of added sugar among children and adolescents. Besides being laden with sugar, most soft drinks contain phosphoric and citric acids that erode tooth enamel.”

Sipping on a sugary beverage continuously for hours is very harmful, drinking it all at once is at least better.

Dr Dabholkar says, “The high sugar content in drinks is bad for both our body and teeth. Diet drinks which are artificially sweetened contain tooth-eroding acids. Iced teas too contain flavour-enhancing organic acids that can erode tooth enamel. Tea as a beverage without sugar and milk has a positive effect on teeth because of their anti- carcinogenic property or making teeth resistant to decay.”

Dried fruits
In between your meals you snack on a packet of dried fruits instead of a processed fruits — you are unaware that even dried fruits can be harmful for our teeth because of their concentrated sugar content and stickiness. Dried raisins, prunes, apricots, anjeer are gummy. So, parts of them easily adhere to teeth and the sugar in them encourage bacteria in the mouth that erodes tooth enamel. Dr Dabholkar says, “Dried fruits are packed with non-soluble cellulose fibre, which can bind and trap sugars on and around the tooth, making it worse than sweets.” Chewing regular fruits, however, is less harmful, because even though they have sugar too, they aren’t as sticky and the saliva helps in cleaning up.

Alcohol and wine
Saliva in our mouth helps to wash away food particles and protect against acidic foods and since alcohol suppresses the production of saliva, it is harmful for teeth, may lead to gum disease and even mouth cancer. Dr Jaradi says, “If taken in excess, acidic composition of wines dissolves enamel, makes teeth porous and easily stained.”

And ones that are good…

This is indispensable. You should rinse your mouth with water every time you eat or drink (hot/cold beverages).

Milk products
Milk, curd, paneer, cheese have essential vitamins and minerals. They can replenish the calcium needed for teeth health.

Fruits and vegetables
High-fibre foods can actually scrub your teeth clean. Fruits and vegetables that are crunchy and juicy like cucumber, watermelons, muskmelons apples, pears have water content that offsets the fructose.

Vitamins, minerals, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and other nutrients present in nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews and peanuts are good for your teeth.

Green tea
A warm cup of green tea has polyphenol that helps suppress bacteria and can help fight cavities and plaque. Coffee and cocoa are also beneficial.

Don’t brush your teeth right after drinking or eating something acidic — a sugary carbonated beverage — otherwise the enamel erodes away faster. Rinse with water thoroughly, wait for around half-an-hour to let the natural saliva do its job, and then brush.

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