We've been warned since childhood about the tooth-decaying threats of sugary-candy and soda pop. But certain foods (even fruit!) decay your teeth more quickly than you might realize. Take a look at the worst food for your teeth and healthy alternatives you can eat to replace them.
Worst Food for Your Teeth: Citrus Fruits
Citrus foods, especially grapefruits and lemons, are a culprit of tooth erosion. They contain high amounts of acid which can erode the enamel on your teeth; reduce this by consuming citrus fruits with your meals, or flossing and rinsing your mouth when finished eating.
Healthy Alternative: Non-citrus Fruit
Hard fruits such as apples and pears contain high amounts of fiber, which enact a cleansing reaction in your mouth due to the extra saliva that's produced. Hard fruits have a high water content which neutralize the sugar contained in them, making them great alternatives for citrus fruits.
Worst Food for Your Teeth: Chewy Candy
Chewy and sticky candy are two of your teeth's worst nightmares. The texture of chewy candy makes it more likely to catch in the crevices of your teeth, allowing bacteria to feed off the candy remnants. Sticky sour candy is one of the worst foods for your teeth, as the high acidity will dissolve the enamel on your teeth as soon as contact occurs.
Healthy Alternative: Cheese and Yogurt
Dairy products are awesome choices for a healthy smile. The calcium and phosphate found in dairy products restore some of the minerals in your teeth that may have been lost from sugary food.
Worst Food for Your Teeth: Hard Candy
While hard candy may not stick to your teeth as easily as chewy candy, it is still not a good alternative. Hard candy is one of the worst foods for your teeth due to the fact that it's typically not swallowed quickly. Consumers tend to suck on hard candy, resulting in the candy lingering by your teeth for an extended period of time. Acid burns in your teeth 30 minutes beyond the last swallow of sugary food. Thus, if you suck on a piece of hard candy for 20 minutes, your teeth are going to be decaying for 50 minutes total.
Healthy Alternative: Sugar-free Gum
When you're needing a mint or fruit-flavored candy to bring a new flavor into your mouth, consider a piece of sugar-free gum. Not only will it serve as a healthy substitute to a tooth-decaying candy, sugar-free gum also helps clean your mouth by stimulating saliva production which aids in rinsing away bacteria.
Worst Food for Your Teeth: Potato Chips & Crackers
Potato chips or snack crackers may seem like a safe option for avoiding tooth decay, but be warned that chips and crackers are not good for your teeth. The nature of chips and crackers cause them to get stuck between teeth while chewing, and once your saliva breaks down the starches of these foods, those chip particles are converted to sugar. Therefore, the starch-based foods you thought were safe against tooth decay are just as dangerous as sugar-based foods.
Healthy Alternative: Nuts
If you're craving a food with crunch, reach for nuts. Nuts carry vitamins and minerals that promote strong teeth, enamel protection and saliva production.
Challenge yourself to limit your consumption of the unhealthy foods mentioned above. Oral health is part of your total health so take care of your teeth and gums in order to achieve optimal health.