When it comes to oral health there are a few very specific food items you need to try and cut down on. Some of these foods might seem like obvious contenders, but others could prove more difficult to stomach. If you want to keep your pearly whites white and pearly, start by crossing a few of these off your shopping list.
Hard Boiled Sweets
Let’s start with the obvious. Sweets get their name for a reason – they are practically 100% sugar. But, whilst softer sweets certainly won’t benefit your teeth, they still aren’t nearly as damaging as the hard boiled alternatives. When you bite into a hard boiled sweet, little fragments of it get stuck in your teeth and begin to rot away the enamel. So, if you have a notorious sweet tooth, then it’s best to avoid the harder stuff.
Again, this one might not come as a shock, but it’s not just the sugared kind that can wreak havoc on your teeth. Just like hard boiled sweets, popcorn kernels can wedge in the gaps between teeth and attract unwanted bacteria. If you do decide to treat yourself to a bag, then make sure you have plenty of floss on hand afterwards.
There’s nothing to peanut butter except protein and fibre right? Wrong. Unfortunately, there are around 0.9g of sugar in each serving, which seems relatively low, until you realise that adults are only recommended 7g of sugar a day. PB’s other downfall is its stickiness, because this allows it to bind straight to the teeth. Choosing spreads with no added sugar can help prevent health problems.
Ever told that an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Well, the same can’t be said for dentists. The malic acid in apples can wear your enamel down over time and make your teeth more prone to disease. Of course, apples are still considered one of your five a day, so eating them in moderation is perfectly acceptable. If possible, rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash afterwards to get rid of any excess acid.
Whilst the vegetables themselves aren’t particularly damaging, the vinegar in which they are pickled is actually a diluted form of acetic acid. One or two pickled onions won’t hurt you, but if this is a particular indulgence of yours then you need to be careful. A glass of water with your meal can help, but you should also try and brush your teeth within an hour of finishing.
Another case of sabotaged veg, salad dressings mainly consist of a teeth-melting mix of vinegar and sugar. Heaping them on your nicoise may add flavour, but it comes at a cost. Use dressings sparingly and only if you can’t bear to eat your salad without them.
You may have noticed that a lot of ready made sandwiches seem to be inexplicably high in sugar. On the whole, this is less to do with the contents of the sandwich and more to do with the choice of bread. White bread contains far more sugar than many people realise, because of sweeteners added in the baking process. Switch to wholemeal or make your own to avoid these unnecessary additives.
If a food is difficult to chew it will usually end up settling between your teeth. You should be wary of tough meat, especially cuts that have been preserved in sugar. Flossing after meals containing these meats is essential, but if you haven’t got any to hand, then sugar free chewing gum is a great alternative.
Most people will agree that a packet of salt and vinegar isn’t great for your body. However, what you might not know is that crisps are just as bad for your teeth as they are for your belly. Starch from the potato is broken down into natural sugars by bacteria in your mouth and left to decay.
In many ways, sugarless carbonated drinks are actually worse for you than regular sodas. Whilst they might not have the same impact on the rest of your health, your teeth are going to suffer. Diet sodas have high acidity levels, meaning they attack the enamel on your teeth directly, as well as being packed full of sweeteners. Don’t be fooled into thinking these drinks are improving your diet. If you gulp down too many, you’re going to end up at the dentist sooner than you think.