The foods and beverages you include in your diet all affect your teeth and gums. While some foods and drinks promote healthy teeth and gums, others can lead to cavities, erosion and the development of oral disease. This article presents the 7 worst foods and drinks that can damage your teeth.
Iced coffee drink with straw
Sugary drinks like sodas, sugary coffee drinks, and energy drinks have a host of negative health effects. They promote cardiovascular disease, weight gain, insulin resistance, and more. So it’s no surprise that sugary drinks are also harmful to your teeth and gums. These drinks affect your teeth in two ways: They are acidic and they provide fuel for bacteria that promote cavities. Cavity-promoting bacteria, such as Streptococcus mutans, feed on sugar and produce acids that demineralize or destroy tooth enamel. Acidic and sugary drinks like cola are therefore a double whammy for your teeth. Not only are they naturally acidic, but they also lead to additional acid production.
Research shows that carbonated and sugary drinks are extremely erosive to your teeth. In fact, frequent consumption of acidic carbonated beverages like sodas and sports drinks is believed to be one of the major dietary factors in dental erosion.
Although some people may think that diet soda is a better choice for oral health, this is not the case. In fact, Diet Cola has been shown to be even more erosive to tooth enamel than regular Coke. Researchers suggest that diet cola may actually be more erosive to teeth because it contains citric acid, which binds to calcium and removes it from teeth. Holding or shaking a soda or other acidic drink in your mouth can be particularly problematic, as it increases the time the acidic substance is in contact with your teeth.
According to experts, you should also avoid brushing your teeth right after drinking acidic beverages, such as soda, because your enamel is vulnerable to damage.
Regular consumption of cola, sports drinks, and other acidic beverages can cause irreversible damage to your teeth. In addition, studies have shown that in young adults, the consumption of sugary drinks is associated with tooth decay, which is a major factor in tooth loss.
That’s why it’s best to avoid or limit sugary and acidic drinks as much as possible.
2. Table sugar, candies and other sources of added sugar
As we mentioned above, sugar feeds harmful bacteria in your mouth, which leads to the production of acids that break down tooth enamel.
This is why dietary intake of added sugar is considered the most important risk factor for cavities.
Keep in mind that natural sugars found in foods such as fruits and dairy products do not contribute significantly to tooth decay. This is because natural sugar sources provide protective compounds, such as fiber and minerals, and stimulate saliva flow in the mouth, which helps protect teeth and gums. In contrast, added sugars like fructose and table sugar can contribute significantly to the development of cavities and poor oral health.
Numerous studies have shown that children and adults whose diets are high in added sugars have a significantly higher risk of cavities and gum disease.
Sucking on sweets like lollipops, caramels is one of the worst things you can do for your teeth. This practice increases the time your teeth are exposed to sugar, which is a key factor in the development of cavities.
3. Sweet cereals and baked sweets
Many people start their day with a bowl of sugary cereal or a pastry.
Not only will these food choices make you hungry after an hour or so due to their lack of protein and other important nutrients, but these foods are high in added sugar and refined carbohydrates, which are not good for you. your teeth. Some cereals and sugary pastries contain several teaspoons of added sugar per serving, which can contribute to tooth erosion and gum disease. Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals and cereal-based sweets are among the top sources of added sugar in children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years.
4. White bread and refined starches
Refined carbs, like white bread and white rice, and some starches, like potato chips, can contribute to poor oral health. As with added sugar, bacteria in the mouth quickly ferment sugars found in carbohydrate sources like white bread and crisps, producing acid that erodes enamel.
Eating a lot of these foods has been linked to an increased risk of cavities.
What’s more, some research suggests that starchy foods may increase the effects of sugar on cavities. Starches are sticky, which increases the time the sugar stays on the teeth and leads to a prolonged acidic environment in the mouth. Replacing processed starches, like white bread and chips, with more nutrient-dense carbohydrate sources, like whole fruits, sweet potatoes, and whole grains, can help improve your oral health.
5. Fruit juices and fruit soft drinks
Even though pure fruit juices contain an abundance of important nutrients, drinking them too often is not necessarily good for your teeth. Fruit juices are acidic and can erode tooth enamel. This is especially true for more acidic types, such as grape, orange, apple, and lemon juice.
A 2016 analysis of 13 studies including a total of 16,661 children aged 8 to 19 found that the more children reported regularly drinking acidic fruit juices, the more likely they were to suffer from dental erosion. Fruit pop made with acidic fruit juices, plus added sugar, can also damage teeth.
6. Alcoholic beverages
Alcoholic beverages, especially those with added sugar and acidic ingredients, are not good for dental health. Alcohol consumption is considered an important risk factor for oral cancer because it affects the permeability of the oral mucosa, making it more vulnerable to potentially carcinogenic substances.
In fact, studies have shown that increased alcohol consumption is associated with a higher risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx.
In addition, alcohol can cause dry mouth, increase acidity in the mouth, increase cravings for highly palatable processed foods, and alter the balance of bacteria in the mouth, which can damage teeth. Studies show that people with alcohol-related disorders have a higher risk of developing cavities, disease and gum damage. Additionally, people with alcohol-related disorders are less likely to visit a dentist regularly, which can lead to dental problems (23Trusted Source). If you do drink, do so in moderation and limit drinks with added sugar and high acid ingredients.
7. Excessively sticky or hard foods
Certain foods can increase the risk of chipping a tooth or pulling out a filling. For example, chewing on hard foods, such as pretzels or hard candies, can cause a tooth to be chipped. A study conducted in 2021 with 56 people ar