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5 “Healthy” Foods That Are Actually Bad for Your Teeth

Just like fashion trends and music styles, popular diets and foods come and go. If you’re into following trendy new foods, you should be aware of how these foods can affect your whole body. However, some people forget to think about how a new diet or special food can impact their dental health.

There are some “healthy” foods that actually do more harm than good when it comes to your teeth. You can make informed choices about the foods you eat each day, deciding to regularly eat only those foods that will promote excellent oral health now and in the future. Here are some foods to be aware of.

Ice Cubes

During the summer, many people turn to ice cubes instead of cooling treats like popsicles and ice cream. In a lot of ways, ice is a much better option. It’s sugar free, cold, and has no calories, so it’s a great idea for cooling off when you’re trying to make healthier choices.

Sucking on ice is typically fine, but an issue comes into play when people decide to chew on ice. Chewing on ice can actually cause damage to your enamel, and if you’ve had dental work like a large filling or crown, the ice can break these tooth repairs, necessitating an emergency trip to the dentist for a replacement.

Dried Fruit

Many people turn to dried fruit as an alternative to sugary fruit snacks or candies like gumdrops. From a nutrition perspective, this is a better option. Dried fruit has fiber and vitamins that many sugary candies do not have.

However, dried fruit has the same effect on teeth as sticky candies. Fruit is very high in sugar, and some fruit types, like dried pineapple, are still highly acidic. Many types of dried fruits, especially mangos and cranberries, are sweetened with sugar, making them more like candy than like fruit.

Dried fruit fibers are more likely to get stuck between the teeth, and the sticky texture allows a sugary residue to linger on your teeth after you’ve swallowed. If you enjoy dried fruit, you should brush and floss after indulging in this sweet natural treat.

Citrus Water

Many people have the admirable goal of increasing their water intake. After years of drinking juice, alcohol, soda, and milk, focusing on water can be a challenge for many people. To make water more interesting and palatable in comparison to more exciting beverages, many people add flavorings from fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

The most popular additives are lemons, limes, and oranges. Citrus brightens up water without the need for any sweetening, and some people find citrus water more refreshing than water itself.

Unfortunately, citrus juices are highly acidic, and if you sip on lemon water all day long, you are constantly lowering the pH in your mouth. Your enamel will weaken more quickly, leading to decay.

Plain water is the safest choice, but if you must flavor your water, do so with fruit oils diffused from the peels of citrus, like lemon oil. You can also choose less acidic fruits and vegetables for flavoring, such as blueberries and cucumbers.

Saltine Crackers

Many parents turn to crackers as a “healthy” snack over cookies, candy, or brownies. However, saltine crackers (and other crackers like fish crackers, thin wheat crackers, and flaky round crackers) are just as bad.

Your saliva has an amazing ability to begin the digestive process in the mouth with the help of specific enzymes that begin to turn simple starches to sugar as you chew. The reason these crackers are so bad is that they are basically all starch, and so they turn into a paste that coats the teeth as you chew.

The paste quickly becomes simple sugar, and any residue left behind feeds the bacteria in your mouth. The bacteria start to break down the enamel, and the starch residue stays until you brush your teeth, giving the bacteria a long-lasting food source if you snack on crackers throughout the day.

If you want to give your child a healthful snack, consider a complex carbohydrate like oatmeal, lentils, or a slice of whole-grain toast.

Diet Soda

Diet soda is one of those tools that people can use to wean themselves off of calorie-dense and sugar-loaded regular soda. Diet soda has low or no calories but still offers a sweet taste and the pleasure of carbonation.

Unfortunately, diet sodas are still bad for your teeth. Any soda, including diet soda, is acidic and will contribute to enamel erosion. It’s best to enjoy soda only on special occasions. Never sip soda slowly over the course of several hours.

As you can see, some “healthier” foods are still not healthy for your teeth. You can enjoy treats occasionally, but if you know the dangers, you can remember to swish with water, brush, and floss to keep your teeth as healthy as you can when enjoying these foods. Contact us at Dr. Jerry F. Maymi & Associates for more information about your dental health.