Your teeth are covered by enamel, the hardest substance in the human body. However, the hardness isn’t bone deep. In fact, your teeth aren’t bone, and the enamel is only a thin layer covering the exposed part of your teeth.
And despite that hardness, enamel isn’t invincible and many of the foods you eat are incredibly bad for your teeth.
But instead of merely making a list of foods bad for your teeth (since the list can get long!), it’s important to know what your teeth is made of and what can weaken it.
What Is Enamel?
Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body and is 96% mineral, the primary mineral of which, is a crystalline calcium phosphate. It is part of the tooth structure and forms while the tooth is still developing within the gums. It does not contain any blood vessels or nerves once it is fully formed.
What Damages Enamel?
There are many factors can damage your teeth or enamel:
- Physical abrasion
Erosion and demineralization
Your teeth are susceptible to the demineralization process, which causes cavities. While this is a natural process, there are some foods that can increase the rate of demineralization.
Acids, in particular, dissolves the minerals in your teeth, but are found in a lot of foods.
Teeth will naturally wear down from chewing, but foreign objects can cause further damage.
Properly fitted dentures, mouth guards, and retainers can reduce the stress and damage to surrounding teeth. Even brushing your teeth too hard or using a toothbrush with stiff bristles can negatively impact your enamel.
Grinding your teeth can also damage your teeth.
Although enamel is very hard and strong, it has a similar brittleness to glass. While your jaw and individual tooth structure naturally distributes force evenly while you chew, there is a maximum limit of how much pressure you tooth can withstand.
Trauma can also damage your teeth, so it’s important to have a mouthguard when you participate in high impact sports.
Foods That Are Bad for Your Teeth
Now that you know what enamel is and what can damage it, here are some foods that are bad for your teeth.
1: Fizzy Drinks
Fizzy drinks are incredibly bad for your teeth because of their high levels of acids and sugar. While the carbonation can be a refreshing sensation going down, it’s wreaking havoc on your enamel. That’s because carbonated water is made by dissolving carbonic acid in water. In addition to carbonic acid, many sodas also have phosphoric and citric acid.
Following the acid, these fizzy drinks are also full of sugar, which can cause plaque, a build-up of bacteria on your teeth. The bacteria in plaque feed on the sugars in soda and releases acid as a by-product.
Certain sodas also have food colouring, which can stain your teeth.
2: Chewy sweets
Sweets are obviously bad for your teeth, but chewy ones are particularly damaging. We already know that sugar can cause bacteria build up and release acids. However, what makes chewy sweets even more damaging is they actually stick to—and between—your teeth, allowing the bacteria to have an extended feast.
Then there are the sour chewy sweets. In addition to being sugary and sticking to your teeth, they are acidic. Acids are actually what gives these sweets their sour taste.
3: Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits are full of citric acid. Grapefruit and lemon juice, in particular, are highly acidic and can cause a lot of damage.
However, while citrus fruits make the list, that doesn’t mean you should avoid citrus fruits or juices. They are a rich source of vitamin C and other nutrients and are vital to your health. Just remember to rinse your mouth or drink water after eating.
Crisps are loaded with starch, which is a type of carbohydrate and is easily converted to sugar. Of course, eating crisps in moderation is fine, but when did anyone ever eat just one? And crisps have a habit of compacting and sticking in your teeth.
5: Breads, pastas, and crackers
Try this at home: if you suck on some raw pasta long enough, it will eventually taste sweet. That’s because refined carbohydrates found in breads, pastas, and crackers easily convert to sugar as they interact with enzymes in your saliva.
These foods also often get stuck in and between your teeth.
6: Coffee and tea
Sorry to all tea lovers but while these popular hot drinks can help to keep you awake and focused a little bit longer, coffee and tea tend to stain your teeth, which can be slightly sticky and help attract food and bacteria.
Coffee in particular is also acidic and its stains are more resistant to tooth brushing and bleaching treatment.
Foods with acids and sugars or ones that can cause staining aren’t the only foods that are bad for your teeth. Remember, enamel is brittle. Chewing on anything hard, like ice, can chip or crack your teeth.
Minimize the Damage Caused by Foods
While there are plenty of foods and drinks that are bad for your teeth, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to abstain from them. Don’t skip eating that orange or carb-loading before a marathon just because you’re concerned for your teeth. Many of these foods are incredibly important to a healthy lifestyle. Just remember to rinse, brush, and floss—good oral hygiene can compensate for a lot.
Get Regular Check Ups
Regular dentist visits are an important way to monitor the health of your teeth. At our West Sussex dental practice, we regularly help our patients minimize the damage caused by the foods they eat. With our expert staff of dentists and hygienists using the latest advances of dental technology, we can give your teeth a proper cleaning as well as educate you on the best ways to take care of your teeth at home.
Make an appointment at Vitality today.