It’s common knowledge that sugary, sticky foods like caramels, taffy, and other candies are bad for your teeth.
But not all tooth-destroying foods are as obvious.
According to consumer adviser for the American Dental Association Matthew Messina, any food that is excessively sugary, sticky, starchy, or hard can cause damage to your teeth.
Here’s a list of lesser-known foods that can be dangerous for your dental health.
Popcorn kernels are hard enough that biting down on one can cause teeth to crack. Although this food is a tasty, calorie-smart snack, many dentists find that popcorn can surprisingly cause a lot of problems. Unpopped kernels pose a particular risk to people who already have fillings, and if you get a piece of popcorn stuck between your teeth, it can stay there until it causes irritation.
2. Citrus Fruits
While lemons, grapefruits, and oranges have tons of health benefits and are full of vitamin C – the citric acid in them can erode the enamel of your teeth, making them more prone to decay(1).
A simple way to mitigate the effects of citric acid is to increase the amount of saliva present in your mouth. You can do so by eating cheese or fibrous veggies (celery or carrots). And if you’re drinking your citrus fruits, you can use a straw.
3. Sports Drinks
Sports drinks and sodas are a particularly insidious oral health risk, because in addition to being loaded with sugar, they’re also usually consumed over an extended period of time. Bacteria in the mouth can also convert the sugar in these drinks to acid, which dissolve the teeth and form cavities.
Many people assume that ice is good for your teeth, because it contains no additives. But chewing on ice, while satisfying, can leave your teeth vulnerable to cracks and breakage.
If you find yourself unable to break an ice-chewing addiction, you may have an iron deficiency leading to a condition known as pica(2) – consult your doctor if this is a concern for you.
5. Potato Chips
Starchy foods like potato chips are more likely to stick to your teeth(3), so if you’re a fan of chips and other starchy treats, be extra sure to floss daily.
6. Dried Fruits
Sugary and sticky in combination, dried fruits like apricots and plums can give the bacteria a long-term food supply to fuel their cavity-producing activities. A simple way to deal with these sticky situations is to mix a small amount of water with salt and swish and spit. This concoction will get your mouth covered in saliva and help protect your teeth.
7. Peanut Butter
Full of fibre and protein, peanut butter is great for your body – especially if you need an emergency energy boost – but it’s also just as sticky and sweet as candy, especially if you buy the processed kind with added sugar. Washing this food down with a tall glass of water is always a good idea.
Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene
If you’ve found one of your favorite foods on this list, there’s no need to panic – regular brushing (at least twice a day) and flossing (at least once a day), combined with regular visits to your dentist for a thorough teeth cleaning and check-up can go a long way towards correcting the issues caused by these problem foods(4).