You’ve finally figured it out! You’ve got the pantry stocked with all sorts of nutritious food your whole family loves and you’re not turning back. But wait. There might be something those labels aren’t telling you … how good those “good” foods are for your teeth. (This is when we duck!) “Oh, come on, already!” you say. We know, we know. Now, we don’t want you to rearrange your whole pantry, and we’re not asking you to eliminate any of these items either. It is helpful to know how some foods you might think of as harmless can contribute to decay, though, so here’s the “dirty four.”
Sticky and Chewy: If it’s sticky when you chew it, it’s likely sticking between and to your teeth as well. And food that sticks to your teeth means your teeth are in contact with the sugars within those foods for much longer than they would be otherwise. All sorts of healthy foods fall into this bracket: bananas, dried fruit, honey, molasses, granola bars, and yes, even gummy vitamins.
Sour: Some of us really enjoy sour foods: citrus fruit, pickled and fermented foods, vinegars and fruit beverages all fall within this category. They also fall in the category of acidic, which over time can damage tooth enamel.
Starchy: Who doesn’t love bread and potatoes? Well, our teeth, actually. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them. But be aware starchy foods like these can break down into sugars almost immediately once they enter your mouth. Not fun! Anecdotal and scientific research has long suggested a connection between refined carbohydrates and tooth decay – another reason to consider low carb?
Bubbly: Believe it or not, even sparkling water can be a “baddie” when it comes to our teeth. It’s all about pH, and carbonation (even the natural kind) can lead to decay. Vitamin “waters” and flavored sparkling waters are even more concerning if the health of your teeth is important to you, and some dental researchers would prefer we consider such beverages as “potentially acidic drinks rather than water with flavouring.”
Alas, it’s not all bad news. Simply knowing how to take care of your teeth before, during and after eating such foods and enjoying them in moderation is all the info you need to keep that pantry in check. So, when you’re dishing out these foods to your loved ones, or consuming them yourself, offer up a straw for any beverages in the list to keep acid and sweeteners off the teeth; suggest a swish with water in between and after consumption of all the other foods on the list; and enforce a tooth brushing session a half hour (not sooner) after enjoying any of these foods to eliminate any lingering effects. Happy eating!