Foods That Harm Enamel

Foods That Harm Enamel

Published 18/11/2020

Last Reviewed 08/01/2024

Enamel is the productive layer that coats the outside of each of your teeth. This layer is essential to your oral health. It is the hard part of your teeth that you see every time you open your mouth. Unfortunately, when enamel is exposed to sugar, acid, and bacteria, it can break down enamel leaving your teeth defenseless. This is when cavities are formed. 

Enamel the Barrier for Teeth

Enamel also works as a barrier for teeth, shielding them from hot and cold substances. If your teeth are more sensitive to these foods or drinks, you may have damaged your enamel. If you are experiencing sensitivity when consuming hot or cold we recommend seeing your dentist ASAP.

The good news is, there are certain foods that are good for your teeth. You can read more about these foods here.

However, as we mentioned there are several foods that are more prone to damaging your enamel. If you avoid these foods, you can keep your teeth strong and prevent decay.  So, what are these foods that harm enamel?

Foods That Harm Enamel to Avoid

In order to avoid damaging your enamel, developing cavities, and experiencing sensitive teeth, most dentists recommend avoiding the following foods or only consuming them in moderation.

Foods High in Sugar:

Sugar is the biggest culprit of cavities and breaking down the enamel on your teeth. It is advised to avoid sugar in all its forms, but especially hard candies. Hard candies are almost entirely made of sugar that sticks to your teeth, and overtime damages your enamel. A better alternative is to consume sugar-free gum, which will help prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to your teeth.

Citrus Fruits:

Citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges can harm tooth enamel. They are all high in acid which can slowly eat away at your enamel. It is recommended to watch your citrus juice intake because it is high in sugar but it is also very acidic.

Dried Fruits:

Dried fruits are super sticky and high in sugar and can stay on the surface of your teeth for an extended period of time, eroding the enamel. If you do consume dried fruits on a regular basis, remember to drink plenty of water and to brush and floss your teeth after eating.

Potato Chips:

Although they are everyone’s favorite, potato chips are a dangerous snack for the enamel on your teeth. The sticky starches tend to get stuck in your molars and in between teeth, the perfect breeding ground for cavities.

Soda & Sports Drinks:

Both of these drinks are grossly high in sugar and should be avoided at all cost. Sports drinks are also highly acidic. These acids corrode enamel, sometimes down to the dentin. In addition, they can also stain teeth over time. If you feel like you need a sports drink wash out your mouth with water or brush your teeth as soon as possible after drinking. You can also opt for electrolytes that can be added to regular water.

Alcohol Can Harm Teeth:

Alcohol will dehydrate your mouth as you drink more which allows bacteria to thrive. Saliva serves a purpose in that it helps wash away microorganisms and keep bacteria in check. Alcohol is primarily sugar, see above the effects sugar have on your enamel. Studies have shown alcohol can also hurt the overall health of your mouth.   Limit your alcohol consumption to avoid decay and some mouth cancers.

Is Chewing Ice Bad For Your Teeth?

Chewing ice is a common practice. Some simply do it as a habit, while for others, it’s a means to dial down the hunger cravings without ingesting extra calories. Whatever your reasons to chew ice may be, quitting it will prevent damages to your tooth enamel.

Chewing ice can cause the enamel to crack and increase sensitivity to foods that are too hot or too cold. A breakage in your teeth can create a cavity through which acids produced by the bacteria can enter the dentin and cause tooth decay. Chewing ice is even more dangerous if you have fillings, or crowns, or if you wear braces or retainers.

Avoid Chewing Ice.

Use it in your drinks to enjoy the cool sensation, but avoid chewing it at the end. In some cases, the urge to chew ice may be a result of iron deficiency. Consult a doctor to check if a change in dietary habits may improve the condition and reduce the urges to chew ice.

Is Sparkling Water Bad For Your Teeth?

Do you just love the refreshing fizz of sparkling water? As fun as it may be, you wouldn’t want to risk tooth damage as a consequence. Just know not all sparkling waters are created equal.

Sparkling Water Without Sugar & Teeth

Sparkling water with no sugar doesn’t appear to be harmful to your teeth. Even though any drink with carbonation is slightly more acid, studies show that sparkling water without sugar has about the same effect of regular water on tooth enamel.  That said, make sure you know what’s in your sparkling water.

Citrus Flavored Sparkling Water & Teeth

Citrus-flavored sparkling water, for instance, is more acidic and may risk damaging your tooth enamel. Sparkling water with added sugar or sweeteners increases the risk cavities. Even if you enjoy sparkling water, be sure to drink lots of water. It keeps your mouth hydrated and washes away the cavity-causing bacteria from your teeth.

Is Gum Bad For Your Teeth?

Chewing gum is a popular habit, and you might find it a relief that it offers some important benefits to your teeth, as long as you choose the right one. Chewing sugarless gum, for instance, stimulates your saliva production, which helps wash away the acids produced by mouth bacteria, keeping the oral cavity clean. By reducing mouth acidity, chewing gum also helps treat heartburn. Other than the minty, refreshing smell of the gum itself, by cleaning away the bacteria in your mouth, chewing gum improves mouth odor.

Sugary Gum & Teeth

While chewing gum offers some benefits, using the wrong one can be harmful. Chewing sugary gum can increase the acid production in your mouth and lead to tooth decay. Even if you do chew sugary gum, remember to brush your teeth or use a mouthwash later to clear the mouth of the sugar and excess acids.

Is Coffee Bad for Your Teeth?

In its natural form, and when consumed in moderation, coffee can be a healthy beverage. However, there are some coffee related teeth issues that you should know about.

Coffee Stains Enamel

One major drawback in terms of your oral health is the staining effect. Over the years, regular coffee consumption can cause discoloration on your teeth. If you do consume coffee, make sure to drink plenty of water or brush your teeth later, to reduce the staining effect.

Coffee Flavoring Is Bad for Teeth

Additionally, many people take sugar or add flavoring in their coffee, and sugar is bad for your teeth. Sugar increases the bacteria population inside your mouth, increasing acid production and risks of tooth decay.

Is Eating Lemons Bad for Your Teeth?

Lemon juice may have overall health benefits, but it’s bad for your teeth. It’s very erosive and can harm your enamel. Consuming lemon juice can cause acids to linger on your teeth and wear down its enamel. The acids also help feed bacteria, forming plaque and cavities.

Use a Straw to Avoid Enamel Damage

At the same time, lemon juice is nutritious and rich in antioxidants. You can limit its negative effects on the teeth by drinking beverages with lemon juice with a straw. Drinking water after consuming a lemon or drinking lemon juice also helps reduce the negative effects on enamel. Alternatively, rinse your mouth out with water or mouthwash to wash away the acids.

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