Our modern diet provides opportunities for both dental health and dental harm. Consumption of certain foods and beverages can foster tooth decay, stain the teeth, erode enamel which can result in tooth sensitivity, chip the teeth, and may also damage orthodontic appliances.

Chewing on ice is NEVER a good thing. Doing so can lead to chipped or fractured teeth and a dental emergency. Inevitably it will also destroy orthodontic appliances leaving loose or poking metal in the mouth.

Sticky foods, such as dried fruits, contain sticky sugars that adhere to the sides and between teeth for an extended time. This can result in a risk of dental decay.

Hard candies give teeth a “double whammy”. Not only do they contain an abundance of processed sugar, but the flavoring agents are extremely acidic. Therefore, even sugar free hard candies are not free of the potential to erode (dissolve) enamel.

Citrus fruits and juices, as well as soda, sports drinks, and even flavored water are very low in pH. In other words, these are also acidic and will erode enamel.

Some coffees and teas, especially when sugar sweetened, can cause enamel erosion or tooth decay. They, along with alcoholic beverages, can also stain teeth and dry the mouth. Sipping them throughout the day wreaks more havoc on the teeth then consumption of the beverage in a single event.

In moderation, except for chewing on ice, consumption of some of the items listed above pose less risk of dental harm if the amount is limited and one is diligent rinsing with water, and brushing or flossing after their consumption.

Alternatively, one make food and beverage choices that promote dental health:

  • Fluoridated water helps remineralize enamel, which can limit the severity of erosion and help prevent cavities.
  • Calcium and phosphorus are components of enamel. Therefore, foods rich in calcium (dairy, dark green leafy veggies, tofu, fish canned with bones) and phosphorus (protein foods) help strengthen teeth by rebuilding enamel.
  • Fruits and veggies are high in fiber which helps cleanse teeth. Fibrous foods require more chewing, which stimulates salivary production. Saliva dilutes acids and helps remove food debris from teeth. Remember to rinse with water after consumption of citrus fruits.

With some thoughtful consideration of food and beverage choices, we have control in protecting our teeth.