You brush and floss your teeth daily and dutifully visit your dentist for regular cleanings. You buy the top-of-the-line toothpaste that promises to fight cavities and remove pesky stains and you rinse with fluoride. But for some reason, you still get that random cavity and your teeth don’t look as white as they used to. What are you doing wrong?
As it turns out, you may actually be harming the protective layer of tooth enamel a little every day without even knowing it. Once destroyed, this layer of enamel cannot be fully restored which ultimately can lead to staining and tooth decay.
The Food Culprits
Chewy and Hard Candies
Of course candy is first on our list. Our parents, dentists and hygienists have all warned us to stay away from sugary treats as they will not only lead to decay but they also destroy our tooth enamel. While sugary treats, such as chocolate, can lead to unwanted cavities, consistent brushing and flossing can lessen those chances as the sugar can often be brushed and rinsed away.
Sticky candy, such as caramels and taffy, however, has a tendency to stick in the crevices of your teeth which allows bacteria to grow. Your mouth contains naturally occurring bacteria called streptococcus which thrives on the sugar, creating an erosive acid which ultimately destroys the protective tooth enamel.
Hard candy is equally, if not more harmful. Since these candies dissolve slowly in your mouth, there is more time for the bacteria to create damaging acid. These types of candies also often contain citric acid for flavoring, known for destroying tooth enamel. Sour versions are typically considered the worst as they contain the highest levels of erosive acid. Too often, these types of candies can get caught in the crevices of your teeth, giving the bacteria more time to wreak havoc.
Citrus fruit and tomatoes
Another culprit that can lead to tooth enamel erosion and ultimately staining is citrus fruit. While healthy for our bodies is so many ways, citrus such as lemons, grapefruits and oranges, soften the enamel on our teeth. Tomatoes, and any food that contains them, also poses a risk. It is recommended you drink a glass of water to help rinse some of that acid away right after consumption.
While starchy foods and carbs don’t sound too dangerous, they actually can contribute to tooth decay as much as some candies. Since starches made from white flour are simple carbohydrates, they can eventually break down into simple sugars as they remain in your mouth after a meal. The bacteria that feed on these sugars can also potentially harm your teeth.
The Drink Offenders
Nobody ever said drinking sugary soda was good for you, but you may be surprised how much damage can be done to your teeth when drinking any carbonated soft drink. The acids found in soda can actually harm your teeth more than straight sugar, which means you can still destroy your enamel when drinking sugar-free diet sodas. The citric and phosphoric acid will scour your tooth enamel. In fact, some researchers say soda can be as corrosive to teeth as battery fluid. It is recommended if you really need that can of soda, to drink it during a meal as food helps neutralize the acids and be sure to brush soon after.
Adults and kids alike often turn to sports and energy drinks to make it through a long day. Unfortunately, drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade and Red Bull, destroy tooth enamel very quickly. A study published in the journal General Dentistry declared that these drinks contain so much acid it only takes five days of consistent use to begin destroying teeth. While it’s important to stay hydrated and alert, water is consistently the best choice when it comes to your teeth.
Coffee and Tea
If you haven’t been careful about preserving your tooth enamel, you will find your teeth will stain very easily. If your favorite coffee or tea mug is beginning to stain, chances are so are your pearly whites. Both coffee and black teas (high in tannins) are known to create terrible staining as the pigments can become embedded in the cracks and ridges in your enamel.
Surprisingly, both red and white wine contain erosive acid and can lead to stained teeth. Not only do the chromogens in wine produce discoloring pigments, but the tannins in red wine can dry out your mouth which can lead to sticky teeth and staining. And the acids allow other foods and drinks to penetrate your enamel.
What can you do?
In addition to brushing, flossing and seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings, here are a few tips to helping fight the food and drink culprits:
Eat your crisp fruits and vegetables
Fiber-rich and crispy apples, carrots and celery not help stimulate mouth-cleansing saliva, but they also assist in cleaning the plaque from teeth, essential for fighting decay.
Drink plenty of water
Water works much the same way as saliva, rinsing away the sugars and acid from your teeth. And the naturally contained mineral fluoride can help protect against erosion.
Drink your milk
Dairy products provide an excellent source of calcium which is vital for healthy teeth. Consuming milk, yogurt and cheese can help strengthen your tooth enamel. And casein, a type of protein found in cheese, also plays a role in stabilizing and restoring tooth enamel.
Chew sugarless gum
One of the keys to washing away those pesky acids when brushing is not immediately possible is chewing sugar-free gum. The additional saliva produced while chewing gum helps rinse away some of the bacteria that ultimately can lead to decay. Additionally, the saliva generated during chewing is good for your teeth as it contains bone-strengthening calcium and phosphate. Some professionals recommend chewing gum that contains xylotol, which is an alcohol that is known to reduce bacteria.
The best advice is the contact a reliable, experienced and qualified Wichita dentist
Please contact Cambridge Family Dentistry for a free consultation or if you have any questions about ways you can prevent tooth erosion and staining.