assortment of candy

And You Thought Candy Was Bad for Your Teeth!

Which foods and beverages are the worst at causing tooth sensitivity due to enamel erosion? 

Yes, of course, candy, cookies and other sweet treats are a hazard to your dental health. Some version of “Don’t eat sweets, or your teeth will all rot out” has been preached to kids for generations. Your parents said it to you, and you are likely passing it on to your own children. And, as advice goes, it’s pretty sound: sugar interacts with bacteria in the mouth to create acid, which begins to dissolve tooth enamel. 

What many people do not realize, though, is that sugar is only one of many types of foods and beverages that can damage your teeth. The list is not only long, but, along with those you might expect to be problematic for other reasons, it contains foods that are otherwise considered to be healthy. And, as seems so often the case, the list also contains many of our favorites. 

Foods and Beverages That Can Lead to Tooth Enamel Erosion

In addition to the usual suspects found in the candy and dessert sections of the grocery store, some of the more common foods and beverages that are harmful to the all-important enamel layer of your teeth include:

  • sodas – not just dark-colored colas known for staining, but also clear and light-colored varieties due to phosphoric and citric acid content 
  • coffee – which is also notorious for staining teeth
  • wine – all types, white as well as red
  • juices – all types but particularly orange, lemon, cranberry and apple
  • fruits – citric fruits, such as lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits, as well as dried fruits like raisins 
  • tomatoes – this includes raw and when found in foods like tomato sauce, ketchup, hot sauce, soup and pizza 
  • honey – often considered a healthier alternative to sugar, honey is damaging to your teeth in the same way as sugar
  • pickles – this includes dill as well as sweet due to the acidic nature of the vinegar used in the pickling process

Why It’s So Important to Protect Against Tooth Erosion

It is important to understand that erosion of tooth enamel can lead, initially, to discoloration and sensitivity or pain when eating or drinking something hot, cold or sweet and, eventually, to cavities and even tooth loss. That said, while it wouldn’t hurt most of us to cut back a bit on sweets, there are a lot of things on that list that are unlikely to be given up. 

The good news is that there are steps that we can take to minimize the potential damage. One of the best ways is to rinse your mouth with water following a meal so that the sugar and carbohydrates do not have time to interact with the bacteria in the mouth. Some other suggestions include:

  • Drink sodas with a straw, which keeps the liquid mostly away from your teeth
  • Drink milk or eat cheese with or after highly acidic foods which can help neutralize the acids
  • Encourage saliva flow, which protects teeth, by chewing ADA-approved sugarless gum
  • Do not brush teeth until about an hour after eating, especially with highly acidic foods, because brushing too soon can actually damage the enamel

And, last but certainly not least, keep those dental appointments for exams and cleanings so that any problems can be detected and corrected before they can become more serious. 

If you have questions about tooth sensitivity or any of our services, whether dentistry or aesthetics, Cohen Dental Care is dedicated to delivering the highest quality services possible. We offer the latest and most current information and services to our patients with state-of-the-art facilities in Great Neck and Briarwood. Patient comfort, individualized care and complete satisfaction are our priority. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment, you are invited to use our online form by clicking here.