When it comes to the health of our teeth and gums, many of us know to avoid over-consuming indulgent foods and drinks filled with sugar, as this leads to the formation of cavities. But, did you know that plaque buildup, caused by your mouth’s bacteria, can also lead to an inflammatory response and gum disease?
The acids that your mouth’s bacteria releases, not only attack your tooth enamel, but if the plaque remains for too long, it can trigger an inflammatory response which can lead to gum disease.
The easiest way to prevent plaque from wreaking havoc on your gums and teeth is to brush twice a day, floss, and avoid these 4 foods.
1. Don’t Chew Ice
While water is great for your mouth, chewing on ice isn’t. It wears down the enamel on your teeth, which is what helps protect your teeth from the crunching, grinding, and chewing you do all day long. The less enamel you have, the more likely you will experience cavities, tooth sensitivity, and damage.
Chewing on ice can also ruin any fillings that you have, as freezing cold ice may cause them to expand. This can cause them to degrade at a faster pace, requiring you to get them refilled.
By repeatedly exposing your teeth to the cold temperature of ice, you may increase tooth sensitivity, or do damage to the nerves inside your teeth.
You may damage your gums by accidentally puncturing them with the ice, and you may be causing small, microscopic fractures to form in your teeth. If you are a repeated ice chewer, a large fracture may eventually form, which will need a bridge or crown to fix.
2. Avoid Citrus and Citrus Fruits
Unfortunately, regardless of how tasty oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits are, the high citric acid content in them can erode your tooth enamel, and impact the health of your gums. Too much citrus can cause mouth sores to form, and allow your teeth to be vulnerable to tooth decay. Find non-acidic ways to get your vitamin C through supplements, or vegetables like broccoli or peas. Some low-acid fruits that are great alternatives are honeydew, and cantaloupe.
3. Ditch Your Coffee Ritual
While coffee is a sacred morning ritual, and afternoon pick-me-up for many of us, it’s doing a lot more than just waking us up. Beyond the fact that it stains your tooth enamel (which can attract plaque), the various acids found in coffee can eat through and erode your enamel, allowing food particles and bacteria to seep into your teeth. This increases your risk for cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease which may lead to tooth loss (from your teeth becoming more brittle) and painful infections.
Drinking coffee also dries out your mouth, decreasing your saliva production. When you don’t have enough saliva to keep your mouth moist, food particles and bacteria don’t get rinsed away, and you lose out on the minerals within the saliva that help rebuild tooth enamel. A dry mouth can also lead to irritated gums, and sores that develop on the tongue, gums, and inner cheeks.
4. Say No To Sour Candies
While hard candies can do damage to our gums or lead to chipped teeth, and chewy candies tend to stick around for way too long, sour candies are even worse. The outer sour coating is filled with acid, and the chewy candy itself tends to stick to your teeth for longer periods of time. You end up with a double-whammy. If you really have to go with something sweet, consider a square of chocolate, or consume a low-acidic piece of fruit.
Wrapping It Up
Here at Tampa Palms Dentistry, we know how hard it can be to avoid consuming the foods you love. If you are going to indulge in the above 4 foods, rinse your mouth out with water to remove as much of the acid from your teeth and gums as possible. If you’re struggling with plaque buildup, and need to get some feedback on the health of your gums and teeth, schedule an appointment by contacting us, or give us a call at (813) 333-1922.