5 Healthy Foods That Wreck Your Teeth

It's no secret that lollies, sugary sweets and soft drinks wreak havoc on your teeth. But even healthy snacks can put your oral health at risk, says dentist Patricia Meredith. Get the dish on five good-for-you foods that actually wreck your teeth -- and learn how to enjoy them without sacrificing your smile.

Smile-saboteur No. 1: Grapefruit

This citrus fruit is high in the antioxidant vitamin C and filling fibre. But grapefruit is also extremely acidic. “If you eat it very often, it can cause erosion,” says Meredith. She also warns against the enamel-eroding habit of sucking on another acidic citrus fruit: lemons.

Smile-saboteur No. 2: Dried Fruits

Although raisins, prunes and dried apricots are antioxidant-rich ways to curb your sweet tooth, they’re not good for your oral health. “They’re sticky and extremely concentrated in sugar,” says Meredith. When dried fruits get stuck in the crevices between your teeth, the sugars keep acid production going, which erodes enamel and causes decay.

Smile-saboteur No. 3: Whole-grain Bread

“Sugar is the worst offender when it comes to oral health,” according to Meredith. “But people forget that carbohydrates break down into sugars too.” That means that even healthy whole grains feed bacteria in your mouth, which causes acid production and encourages the growth of cavity-causing plaque.

Smile-saboteur No. 4: Popcorn

Although the butter-drenched tubs you munch at the movies aren’t health food, air-popped popcorn is a healthy snack. It’s a whole grain that provides cholesterol-lowering fibre; plus, it’s a high-density food, which means it fills you up for few kilojoules. So what’s the problem? The husks of the kernels can easily get stuck between your teeth and cause infection, and uncooked kernels can actually crack your teeth.

Smile-saboteur No. 5: Sports Drinks

You’ve heard that soft drinks are harmful to your teeth, but you may be surprised to learn that sports drinks are too. “Sports drinks can contain significant amounts of sugar as well as high acid levels -- both of which can damage teeth,” says Dr. Suzanne Hanlin, president of the Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch. A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine also found eight brands of sports drinks showed low pH levels, ranging from 4.46 to 2.38. The lower the pH, the more acidic the product.

Should You Stop Eating These Foods?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to swear off these healthy snacks altogether. In addition to brushing and flossing regularly, follow these smile-saving tips:

Time it right. The more often you eat and the longer foods are in your mouth, the more harm they cause. So limit between-meal snacking and drinking (except water!) -- this gives saliva time to neutralize the acid, suggests Meredith.

Think when you drink. Don’t swish sports drinks around in your mouth, and use a straw so the liquid has less contact with your teeth.

By Ella Brooks for Oral Care and Health Daily

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