Common Things You May Be Ingesting that Could Damage Your Teeth

Most of us grab something to eat or drink without considering the effect it could have on our health, much less the damage it could do to the teeth.  This blog will explain some common things that can harm the teeth when you consistently eat or drink them.

Mints and Hard Candies

We have many patients who use mints and hard candies to stimulate saliva and fight dry mouth.  That is actually a good thing.  The problem occurs when the mints or candies you choose are not sugar-free.

Because we typically hold mints and hard candies in the mouth and suck on them for a prolonged period of time, the teeth are exposed to the sugar they contain for that same prolonged period of time. This is worse than the effect from a candy that is chewed and eaten quickly.

In the cavity process, it is not just the quantity of sugar that matters.  The length of time that you expose your teeth to sugar is even more important.  Candies that you hold in your mouth for a long time are more risky than a quick bite of a candy bar.  Lollipops or chewing gum would also fall into this category.

If you need something minty or sweet to suck on, make sure it is sugar free!

Sparkling Water

This is a tough one because many people choose sparkling water as a healthy alternative to sodas.  It is much healthier in regard to sugar content.  The risk to teeth results from its pH.  Sparkling water is very acidic, and the constant exposure of enamel to an acid makes it weaker and more likely to get cavities.

In order to decrease this risk for cavities, enjoy your fizzy water with a meal so that your body’s natural production of saliva can counteract the acid it contains.

Sports Drinks

Many sports drinks are important in rehydrating after strenuous exercise and lots of sweating.  The problem with sports drinks is that they usually contain as much sugar as a soda.  Some are just as acidic, too.

Choose a sports drink that is sugar free to lower the chance of getting cavities.  Rinse with water afterwards to fight the acidic pH they have.

Diet Sodas

Diet sodas carry the exact same risk as sparkling water.  They are extremely acidic, causing erosion of enamel and greatly raising the risk of cavities.

Because diet sodas also have zero nutritional value, they are a habit you should kick as soon as possible.If you can’t kick the habit, make sure to drink them fast and rinse with water afterward.  Having them with a meal is the best way to ensure that they will do as little damage possible to your enamel.

Lemons/Lemon Juice

Whether you are doing a type of “cleanse” or you just like adding lemons and lemon juice to your drinks, be careful!  Lemons are the most acidic fruit we commonly use.  Adding lemon to your water drastically lowers the pH, making it a dangerous thing to drink regularly.

Chewing Ice

Ice in itself is not bad for you.  It is made from water, which is one of the best things you can drink.  However, ice is frozen water, and it is extremely hard and brittle.

Chewing ice is dangerous for two reasons.  1) The hardness of ice increases the risk of breaking a filling, crown or tooth.  2) The drastic temperature difference between ice and the natural temperature of your mouth creates surface cracks in the enamel.

Reason #2 means that even “soft” ice is not safe to chew.  The rapid change in temperature can hurt your enamel.

Hard Nuts

Call them crazy, but we have some patients who chew sunflower seeds . . . with the shells on!  Other people eat hard almonds every day.

These hard nuts can be too much for teeth, especially those weakened by old fillings or cavities.  NEVER eat shells that should be removed.  If you cannot live without your almonds, choose sliced or slivered almonds to reduce the chewing burden on your teeth.

Curious about Your Favorite Food or Drink?

Do you eat or drink something we did not list?  If you are wondering how it could affect your teeth, call your nearest Premier Dental of Ohio location to schedule a consultation.  Our wonderful Premier Dental dentists and dental hygienists can answer all of your questions about how certain foods and drinks affect your teeth.