The 10 worst and best foods for your teeth
There’s nothing like flashing your pearly whites for instant dazzle. Of course good dental health is important; regular brushing and flossing, and saying no to sticky, sugary foods and teeth enemy drinks like sodas. But did you know there are some ‘healthy’ foods and drinks that are sneakily turning your white-as-snow pearlies eroded and dull?
Think grapefruit, orange, lemon, tomato and lime. These Vitamin C rich fruits are packed with antioxidants and immunity boosters but their high acidic content erodes teeth enamel over time. Guzzling nimbu pani all day or eating oranges ever so often can put you at risk of teeth problems. Counter this negative effect by drinking plain water immediately after downing acid-rich foods and wait for at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
We all know sugar is the number one enemy of healthy teeth but certain candies are worse than others. Toffees and other chewy confectionery stick to the teeth long after you can’t taste them in your mouth, mingling with bacteria to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. Hard candies are equally harmful because biting down chips teeth; even worse, since they take a long time to dissolve they stay in your mouth for a while giving bacteria enough time to erode teeth. Ironically chocolate isn’t half as bad for your teeth since it dissolves quickly!
Red wine is choc-a-bloc with antioxidants that do wonders for your heart. But all those tannins and pigments in your evening glass stain teeth. Even white wine has the same effect. Besides, red and white wine contain corrosive fruit acids that penetrate teeth deeply and continue to wreak their damage long after you take that last sip.
It’s not just sweet tasting sugar that’s bad for teeth; the simple sugars in refined carbohydrates –pasta, spaghetti, white bread, biscuits, potato chips and bread sticks—have a similar effect. As with candy, the bacteria in your mouth then feed on the sugar to produce teeth decaying acid.
Of course dry fruit like dates, figs and apricots are good for you. However, unlike juicy fresh fruit, dry fruit have no water, just a super concentrated amount of sugar and a chewy texture that makes them stick to your teeth when you bite in. Result: sugar hungry bacteria stay trapped between your teeth till you brush it off.
The emphasis here is on the sugarless variety because regular flavored chewing gum actually increases your chances of cavities and tooth decay. In fact in the absence of a toothbrush, sugar-free chewing gum is your best bet to clean up harmful acid and pull bacteria out from between teeth. Xylitol, an ingredient in most sugarless gums, is proven to prevent decay and cavities. A word of warning: excess chewing can cause bloating.
Leafy veggies like spinach and salad leaves are great sources of fiber and require you to chew a lot. This generates saliva that naturally cleanses your mouth and neutralizes harmful acids. Besides, all that chewing scrubs bacteria and food particles from your teeth.
You’d be right in thinking brightly colored strawberries might stain your teeth, but not true! The Malic Acid in strawberries is a natural tooth whitener that doesn’t erode teeth. In fact rubbing mashed up berries combined with baking soda work beautifully as a natural teeth whitener.
What’s good for our bones is good for your teeth! Milk is the number one source of calcium, a prerequisite for health teeth and bones. Have your fill of unsweetened milk, yogurt and cheese. Did you know that cheese is one of the few foods that actually help repair teeth? It contains a protein called casein that works with calcium to repair and maintain tooth enamel.
We always come back to good old aqua! Drink up after a meal or anytime you have a snack. Water—particularly fluoridated water—rinses away sugars, bacteria and other microbes in your mouth to protect against erosion.