Corrosive isn’t a word you want to hear in connection to your teeth, but the reality is you want to be smart in protecting your smile and oral health. Teeth are actually porous, which means that sugars and acids can easily get in and break enamel down or leave teeth discolored—and these consequences can show a lot sooner than you’d think.
Sugary foods and beverages promote bacterial growth that leads to decay, not to mention bad breath. Acidic items actually strip your mouth of its natural pH, which allows those same bad bacteria to grow. Acids also eat away at your tooth enamel, inviting decay and discoloration.
Corrosive foods: be careful of double and triple damage
Corrosive foods range the whole gamut of natural and artificial sugars, particularly in the form of hard or sticky sweets. Citrus fruits are a double-whammy, with loads of natural sugar on top of even more natural acid. Sour candies are about as bad as it gets, with artificial sugar, added citric acid and the sticky texture that bonds to your teeth doing damage until you work it off.
If you like chewing on ice, remember: water is healthy in any form, but anything that requires that much “bite” can damage enamel and even chip teeth.
Corrosive beverages: the unshakable
The beverages that are worst for your teeth are also the hardest to kick. Coffee and soda are not only loaded with sugars and caffeine, but are among the biggest culprits for staining teeth, too.
Anything with citric or other acids will also continue to strip your mouth of its natural pH and eat away at enamel. Alcohol strips your mouth of its pH balance and invites bacteria, especially consuming sugary mixed drinks. The worst alcohol for your smile, however, is probably wine, which stains brilliantly and in short time.
Indirect wear and tear: acid reflux
Even if you aren’t prone to acid reflux, foods that make you burp or provoke the heartburn you only occasionally get can add insult to injury in your oral care. Sodas are a common trigger of acid kick-back. Coffee, alcohol and citrus fruits are also high on the list.
The silver lining is that many of the foods and beverages that stain teeth are also the ones that damage enamel, strip pH and cause excessive burping or acid reflux. This means that you can cross some things resolutely off your list. However, other items are so intimately ingrained into your day-to-day that it’s painful to think about giving them up, as much as you want to stop your teeth from yellowing or rotting out.
The good news
Fortunately, there’s a way to keep your coffee consumption or sweet-tooth snacking without your teeth falling out of your head. If you’re already good about your morning and bedtime teeth brushing, how about a post-lunch scrub? And could you become one of the few who really flosses?
These foods are corrosive, and however nasty the word it’s a reality to face if you want to keep your teeth. If some of these foods and drinks could literally double as cleaning products, why let them sit on your teeth? Eat what you want, but only if you can take a couple minutes to floss and brush after.
Flossing is as important as brushing once you’ve consumed any of these caustic items, because it helps keep your gums healthy. As much as you think about your teeth, you have to remember that your gums are what hold your teeth in your head. Acidic foods and beverages can lead to receding gums, which is a clear problem if you want healthy teeth.
Stay serious about your oral hygiene. Think about what you put your teeth through, and care for them accordingly.