10 Foods and Drinks to Avoid
Teeth are strong. And I mean STRONG. Can you tell me what the strongest naturally occurring substance is? Diamonds? That spider silk that the FBI put in bulletproof vests apparently? No, it’s limpet teeth.
Studies have shown that human teeth are just as strong as sharks’ (although a little less pointy), and some people even feel the need to show off their teeth strength by pulling trains, because what else are you going to do with your Wednesday morning?
But, while teeth may be strong, they’re not invincible. Like Superman, they still have their kryptonite. There are a few foods and drinks that can harm even the toughest and healthiest of teeth, if consumed with enough regularity.
If you’re planning to pull a 300 tonne train from the platform using nothing but your pearly whites, you’ll need to go grab yourself a pen and paper. From the obvious to the surprising, here are 10 common foods and drinks that wage war on your teeth.
1. Hard Sweets
It’s always the tasty ones. Lollipops, gobstoppers and boiled sweets are all delicious, but are also horrendous for tooth health. They are the source of somewhat of a double attack.
Firstly, the huge amounts of sugar used to make these sweets will promote plaque growth in your mouth, made worse by the fact that these treats are designed to sit in your mouth for long periods of time. Secondly, the very fact that Americans called these sweets ‘jawbreakers’ should be enough of a warning – if you try to chew them, you’re at serious risk of chipping or cracking a tooth.
Don’t be fooled by the marketing – all you’re getting in a sports drink is sugar. If you’re an athlete involved in high-level activity and need a glucose boost, they may well be the answer. If you’ve just filled up with petrol and are on your way home after work, they are not.
The monstrous amounts of sugar will promote plaque growth, leading to tooth decay, cavities and gingivitis.
‘Ice??’, you say indignantly. Yes, ice. Those with sensitive teeth may not relate to this one, as they wouldn’t be so silly as to chew on frozen water. But for those who choose to use ice as a chewing gum rather than a way to keep a drink cold, you could be doing serious damage to your teeth.
It’s not the make-up of the ice (water, for those playing at home), but the delivery method. Hard and brittle ice can damage your teeth if chewed, opening up cracks and removing enamel.
The acids found in citrus fruits can seriously damage enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to decay. They can also aggravate gum disease, causing discomfort. Go easy on the lemon drizzle.
Never fear, coffee addicts – we’re not talking a total ban here, but rather an exercise in moderation. Coffee is a diuretic, causing the dry mouth that bacteria thrive on. If you’re disposed to loading your morning cup up with sugar, you’ll also be promoting plaque. By keeping it to one or two a day, and taking it as naturally as possible, you’ll be saving yourself a toothaches (and unsightly stains).
6. Dried Fruits
But fruit is good, right? The issue with dried fruit is that the natural sugars are concentrated, and it becomes stickier. This means that residue can glue itself to your teeth, and encourage the growth of plaque, which attacks your tooth’s enamel. Eating fresh fruit is always the better option.
7. Potato Chips
The processed carbohydrates found in potato chips are a buffet for plaque bacteria, which will quickly break them down to their simple sugars, and feast. On top of that, chips tend to get stuck in your teeth, further exacerbating the issue.
8. Soft Drinks
Possibly the worst thing that you can put in your mouth, soft drink is a one-two punch of sugar and acid that can have your teeth reeling. Soft drink has a pH of 2.5 – vinegar has a pH of 3. Soft drinks are more acidic than vinegar. Your mouth’s tooth-decay causing bacteria will thank you if you love your soft drink.
If you must enjoy a glass, be sure to drink it through a straw, to minimise mouth contact.
9. White Bread
Much like potato chips, white bread is made up of processed carbohydrates, which are easily broken down into sugars inside the mouth. It also has a tendency to get stuck in your teeth. If you’re having a sandwich, go for a more natural loaf.
10. Bottled Water
Well isn’t this a surprise. Pure, distilled, bottled water is on the list. But how and why?
Bottled water can have two things going against it. 1) The filtering process can sometimes make it more acidic, and 2) it can lack the fluoride (natural or added) that is found in tap water, that will strengthen your teeth. Better than choosing the soft drink or sports drink at the petrol station, for sure, but still not perfect.
You’ll notice that a large percentage of the list is made up of foods and drinks that are highly processed. That isn’t a coincidence. Your teeth have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to deal with naturally occurring foods. With advances in food production and manufacturing, a whole new set of challenges are thrown at our teeth.
If you eat less processed and more natural foods, your teeth will thank you, and you’ll be pulling trains to your heart’s content.