Bacterium is a naturally occurring microorganism in our mouths. They usually aren’t harmful unless they start mingling with the starches and sugar leftover in your mouth after eating. Then they start producing an acid, which then breaks down the enamel and lead to tooth decay.
Sweet Sugary Foods
You have probably been told since childhood that sweets and chocolates will rot your teeth. Simple sugar is the kind that sweetens treats like candy, doughnuts, desserts and soda. But no matter how good these sweets taste, they can wreak havoc on tooth enamel especially the sticky sweets variety like gummy bears, taffy, dried fruit or anything else that clings to teeth. Usually fruits such as grapes and plums are generally considered to be healthy foods. However once they are dried they become far less good for your teeth. They can get stuck between crevices easily, making it hard for saliva to wash away and giving the sugar more time to do damage.
Carbohydrate heavy foods such as breads, bagels, chips and pasta can be as harmful to teeth as sugary candy. These types of starchy foods also get stuck between the teeth easily, giving the bacteria and carbohydrates more time to interact and do damage. When you eat foods that are high in starch the same thing happens as when you’re eating sugary foods only this time instead of the sugar mingling with the bacteria to produce acid that’ll damage the enamel, it’s the starch.
Highly Acidic Foods
Snacking on acid producing food such as oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit are fine but can also have problematic effects on teeth. Fruit, fruit juices, yogurt, coffee and pickles are some common examples of highly acidic substances. They can wear down tooth enamel, leading to discoloration and cavities. The acids in these foods and drinks dissolve the mineral structure in the teeth, thinning it and exposing the underlying tissue, which causes teeth to look yellow.
Sugary Drinks – A Double Dose of Trouble
Sugary carbonated drinks like lemonade and sodas should be avoided altogether because of their negative effects on the teeth and the body in general. Many carbonated drinks are such as sodas are very high in sugar, which can damage tooth enamel on its own. But soft drinks also contain enamel-eroding phosphoric and citric acid, making them doubly dangerous. Don’t keep acidic beverages in your mouth for long.
Not only can they corrode the gums, but it also dehydrates your body, lowering saliva production. We need saliva because it helps wash away food particles and dangerous bacteria from the mouth. Less saliva means more bacteria and increased risk of tooth decay.
Smoking and chewing tobacco can not only lead to lung cancer, but it’s also terrible for your teeth and gums. The minimal damage it can do is turn your teeth into a brownish yellow color. Well, how about it being one of the leading causes of gum disease and being associated with various oral cancers. That right there is enough to make you want to stop using tobacco right now.
Other Habits That Can Damage Your Teeth
Gnawing the end of your pen or pencil might help you concentrate better, but continuing this habit will eventually cause chipping or cracking of your teeth. Try to do something else when you are brainstorming or feeling stressed.
Biting your nails is a common habit. You tend to forget that you might not have clean hands. This can lead to nasty infections in some cases not to mention a chipped tooth.
A lot of us tend to become impatient. When we’re trying to open a bag and can’t find a pair of scissors we sometimes use our teeth to rip it open. That’s just trouble waiting to happen.
Stop chewing on hard stuff like hard candy and ice. Candy, like we’ve discussed before, not only contains sugar but it’s also hard! Hard candy and ice can crack teeth. That’s not fun at all.
All these “dont’s” about teeth can make you feel hopeless. However, even with all the nasty effect that sugar and acid can do to your mouth, there are several ways to be able to enjoy foods that contain them. We just have to be smart about it.
Cut Back On Sugar and Starch
Even if you’re an adult, try to avoid eating too many sugar and carbohydrates. Keep consumption of these foods to a minimum and make sure that teeth are cleaned after eating treats. Rinse your mouth with water afterwards and remove all leftover pieces of fruits, bread and pasta from between the teeth. Sugar with bacteria produces oral plaque. Plaque then leads to bleeding gums, tooth decay and cavities.
Wait 30 Minutes Before Brushing
It’s not a widely known fact but brushing your teeth right after eating or drinking anything acidic is a no-no. Acid usually softens the enamel and causes demineralization right after consumption of food or drink so it is fragile at that time. If you brush too soon after consuming an acidic drink or acidic food, you’re forcing the acid deeper into your teeth. To minimize acid wear, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing teeth, so as not to harm the weakened enamel.
Other Practical Tips and Solutions
Water is really the best choice when it comes to liquid for your teeth, because it doesn’t contain sugars or any hidden acidic ingredients. If you can’t help but drink the bad stuff, then you should follow it up with water so you can wash away the sugar and acid. Also remember to drink plenty of the stuff to keep yourself hydrated after a night of drinking.
Use a straw when drinking sodas and juices to reduce the amount of time the acid and sugar come into contact with your teeth.
Rinse your mouth with water or chew sugarless gum after meals to help neutralize acid attacks.
Of course the best solution is for you to have a good dental routine. Make sure that you brush everyday twice a day, floss daily and visit your dentist for a check-up every 6 months.