Keeping tabs on everything your family eats and drinks is quite the challenge. It’s equally tough to know exactly what they should be eating to be healthy, especially when it seems the latest research keeps flip-flopping on what’s good for you and what isn’t. One day carrots are the best thing you could ever eat. The next day they turn your hair purple and make you grow an extra thumb. How can anyone keep up?
In all seriousness, trying to keep your family healthy can be pretty overwhelming. Something to remember, though, is that when it comes to what research tells us, it’s better to rely on facts that reemerge over and over again. If several sources keep coming to the same conclusions throughout the years, chances are you can rely on the information as credible.
Today, we’re sharing some foods and drinks that research continues to connect with oral health problems such as early stages of gum disease (gingivitis), tooth decay, tooth loss, and cavities. Armed with this information, you can make better decisions about what your family eats and drinks and help everyone in your house achieve and maintain their healthiest smiles.
When it comes to fizzy soft drinks and your teeth, there are two main potential risks at play. The first is sugar. Yes, yummy, beautiful, glorious, dangerous sugar. Each can of soda contains a lot of sugar, mostly in the form of fructose. It creates an unhealthy coating over your teeth that bacteria absolutely love to feast on.
Once that happens, it creates acids that erode your tooth enamel. This can lead to cavities, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
The second threat to your teeth is the fact that soft drinks are highly acidic, to begin with. So even without the sugar, which includes diet soda, you increase your risk of erosion and cavities.
Sports Drinks and Fruit Juices
Both sports drinks and fruit juices are designed to attract kids. Drink this, and you’ll be properly energized for the big game! Drink this fruity drink with the latest cartoon hero’s face on it, and you’ll be strong and healthy!
Advertisers know just how to make these beverages look and sound appealing to kids and parents alike. But the truth is that processed juices are often loaded with added sugar. Even natural fruit juice will have sugar, so while you should still incorporate them into your diet, you should also be mindful of how much your family is consuming. The fruit is also very acidic, so that’s something else to keep in mind.
Sports drinks are a little tricky because they usually don’t taste as sweet as the more obviously sweetened beverages. But actually, they’re packed with carbohydrates. And carbs are sugar. Again, it’s better to avoid drinks with high sugar content. When you need to replenish after a game, practice, or workout, opt for water instead.
Coffee, Tea, and…Tomato Sauce?
It’s true. Even though you don’t normally think of these items together, they actually all share some common denominators when it comes to their effect on your teeth. First, they all have stain power. Coffee, tea, and pasta sauce are dark and can easily stain your teeth over a period of time. Instead of a lovely white, your teeth can become more of a yellowish-brown. Depending on how much and how often you consume them, you could eventually need cosmetic dentistry to recapture your whiter smile.
Another commonality among them is sugar. Again, sugar is terrible for your teeth because it can lead to cavities, decay, and weakened enamel. If you’re going to continue drinking coffee or tea and eating your favorite marinara, just be careful about where you’re getting it and who is preparing it. Restaurants and coffee shops can load these items with added sugar.
Popcorn and Ice
On the surface, neither one of these seems like they’re capable of posing any threat to your teeth. But the fact is that both can affect your teeth if you’re not careful.
It really has to do with chewing. What happens when you chew on ice and popcorn is that you can damage your teeth. Ice is refreshing, yes, but it’s also very hard. Chewing on it to stay cool could eventually cause worn enamel and wear and tear to the overall shape of your teeth. You could also crack a tooth while biting down on it.
The same risk exists when you eat popcorn. It’s not common, necessarily, but it can happen. You’re enjoying some light, fluffy popcorn and boom! Suddenly you bite down on a popcorn kernel and injure your tooth. Another threat is the way popcorn so easily gets stuck in between your teeth where bacteria love to the hideout. The bacteria feed on those buttery particles and create acids that can cause tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.
So there you have it! The next time you’re in the grocery store or out to eat with your family, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about what your family eats and drinks for better oral health!
You can also give us a call at 602-482-2785 to schedule your family’s next dental checkup with Dr. Matthew Cavendish, DDS. We care about the oral health of everyone in your household!