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You want a dazzling, healthy, white smile that makes people stop in their tracks and take notice. You know how much your smile communicates about you, and you want it to last. But lately, your frequent cavities have you wondering if your diet is affecting your dental health. You want to have your cake and (literally) eat it too-but can you continue to eat your favorite foods without damaging your teeth?

The foods you eat certainly have an effect on you. While many people are most concerned about what certain foods do to their waistline, they don’t stop to consider that their teeth also suffer from bad eating habits. Want your smile to last long and remain white? Then eat foods that protect your teeth from decay.

Below is our guide to which foods expose your teeth to dangerous bacteria, as well as which foods can fortify your teeth against disease. If you need frequent fillings because you have so many cavities, this guide should be particularly helpful-and don’t forget to ask your dentist about other eating tips that can help!

Dangerous Foods That Damage Teeth

Certain foods and drinks make it very difficult for your teeth to stay healthy and attractive. Most of these foods have sugar in them-although it’s not always the type of sugar you expect.

Your mouth is filled with bacteria (apologies if you didn’t know that and now feel uncomfortable). When that bacteria meets with sugar, including carb-based foods, the product is an acid that eats away at tooth enamel and eventually causes tooth aches, cavities, and tooth loss.

Avoid the following:

Foods. Carbs aren’t necessarily a bad thing if eaten in moderation, but because carbs break down into sugar, it’s a good idea to avoid eating too much of these foods:

  • Potato chips
  • Bread
  • Crackers
  • Pasta

If possible, avoid products made with white flour, as these produce simple carbohydrates that break down into sugar much more quickly and then linger in your mouth.

You should also avoid refined, starchy foods-you know, the kind your kids love so much. (In fact, dentists know that children are so much more prone to cavities for one simple reason: their diet consists of all kinds of foods high in starch and sugars!). If it’s overly sticky or sweet, like candy, cookies, or cake, try not to eat too much of it, and remember to brush immediately afterĀ eating.

Drinks. Some beverages can be especially damaging to teeth. After reviewing our last tip about avoiding overly sugary snacks, it will come as no surprise that carbonated soft drinks are a big no-no. The amount of sugar in both regular and diet sodas is astronomical and can eat away very quickly at your teeth. Bottled iced teas, energy drinks, and alcohol are also dangerous to your oral health.

If possible, avoid fruit juices, which are filled with artificial sugars. Citrusy drinks like lemonade can be especially damaging, as the high acid content in these types of drinks wears away tooth enamel.

Smoking. Although not a food or drink, a cigarette definitely makes the list of things you don’t want to put into your mouth. Cigarettes are full of all kinds of toxic chemicals that eat away at sensitive cells in your nose, mouth, and throat. These substances, called carcinogens, are known to cause all kinds of ailments-everything from tooth decay to cancer. If you’re serious about your oral health, quit smoking.

Great Foods That Strengthen Teeth

You may need to adjust your diet to eliminate foods that hurt your teeth. Just replace them with foods that improve your smile’s beauty and health. You want to eat plenty of nutritious foods that will strengthen your bones (including teeth!) and remove sticky residue from your mouth.

Enjoy the following:

Foods: Your mother probably told you to eat your fruits and veggies. She’s been right before, and she’s right this time as well. Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables stimulate saliva flow, which washes away left-over food. Saliva prevents cavities and even fights acids that wear away the surfaces of your teeth. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure fresher breath and stronger teeth.

Dairy products also do incredible things for your teeth. The famous “Got milk?” ads of the 90’s taught us something we’ll never forget: milk strengthens bones and creates champions. Your teeth need the vitamin D and calcium that dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt provide. Calcium in dairy products even coats the outside of your teeth and protects them against acids.

Drinks: Drink plenty of water-it will help dislodge damaging food particles from your teeth. Better yet, most tap water these days has fluoride in it, which strengthens your teeth. You should drink at least as many ounces of water each day as pounds you weigh.

 

The food and drink you enjoy each day should make you feel energized, strong, and alert, and it’s that kind of food that will also protect your teeth from decay. If you want a white smile, choose to eat foods that will protect your teeth, not damage them.

Consult your dentist for more information about diets that improve oral health.