We all know that sugar is bad for your teeth, but did you know that some of your favorite healthy foods and beverages can be just as bad for you as snack cakes and soda? Not only that, some seemingly innocuous habits could lead to big time dental trouble down the line. Here are some tips on what to cut out of your daily routine to prevent wear and tear on your teeth:
- Dried fruits like raisins, craisins, mango leather, dried apples, or fruit tape might be delicious, portable alternatives to fresh produce, and there’s no doubt that they can be part of a diet that’s great for your body. But these sticky sweet snacks can be tough on your teeth, not just because of their sugar content, but because of their texture. Watch out for anything you eat that has a gummy, sticky, or jelly-like consistency. It’s easier for those types of foods to stay on your teeth or get caught in a crevice, leaving all that sugar right up against your enamel long after you’ve swallowed.
- Coffee, tea, wine, and beer all have health benefits in moderation, and are great alternatives to sugary drinks like soda and juice. But these power beverages can harm your teeth in a couple different ways. One, they can be quite acidic, which contributes to the erosion of your tooth enamel. Two, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are diuretics, and can leave you dehydrated. That can lead to dry mouth (especially if you go to bed after a night of heavier drinking), which gives bacteria even more opportunity to grow. If you’re going to enjoy these tasty adult beverages, chase them with plenty of water, and don’t forget to brush and rinse with mouthwash after you’re done imbibing.
- Don’t use your teeth as tools. It’s tempting to tear open that chip package with your chompers since the contents is going into your mouth anyways, or to bite down on that plastic clothing tag if a pair of scissors aren’t in reach. But over time, those little actions add up to quite a bit of stress on your teeth. Instead of chewing on your pencap or fingernails, try a worry stone or a fidget spinner to work off extra energy. A pocket knife or multi-tool in your pocket or purse can come in handy, too, for more than just saving your teeth a little effort.
- Juicing is all the rage, especially as a way to keep up with your New Year’s resolutions. And while juice might be awash in vitamins, minerals, and free-radical fighting antioxidants, it’s also very, very sweet– even those intense green juices you’ve been virtuously slugging back. There are many other ways to get the same influx of nutrition, from power salads and grain bowls to savory soups packed with vegetables.
- Snacking between meals is not only a good way to pack on the pounds, it’s a good way to make sure your teeth never get a break. You know it’s a good idea to brush after every meal, or at least a couple times a day. But when you’re snacking constantly, it’s easy to lose track of your calorie intake and when the last time you brushed was. Instead of letting food debris accumulate all day, stick to regular mealtimes. Your mouth and body will both thank you!
- Toothpicks might seem like a friend to dental health. After all, you use them to get out the same pesky food particles we just warned you about. But using a toothpick to clean your teeth is kind of like using a cotton swab to clean your ear– it can cause more harm than good. You might scrape your gums, lodge a kernel deeper, or even spread germs if you’re using a toothpick over and over, like one that comes in your Swiss army knife. Instead, floss when you brush, or invest in a Water Pik to help you gently reach those tricky spots. And if your attraction to toothpicks is because they’re a fidget or a replacement for cigarettes or nail biting, try another distraction that is oral-fixation free.
Tis the season for working towards being your best self. Make one of your 2018 resolutions to break these bad habits and take even better care of your teeth!