We all want to live healthy, and we understand that what we eat is likely the most important factor in determining our health. That’s why many people choose foods that they think are healthy, often on the basis of limited research, or sometimes claims made by retailers that are based on no research whatsoever.
But if you are choosing a truly healthy diet, you’ll take into account the impact your diet has on your teeth as well as your body. Here are six food and diet trends that people will hail as healthy, but might not be good for your teeth.
The health benefits of wine have a long and checkered history. On the whole, it seems that there are some valuable antioxidants in wine that can be good for your body, potentially protecting your heart and reducing some cancer risks. Maybe. We said the history is pretty checkered.
There’s even some rumblings that it might be good for your teeth, in that it’s possible some of the compounds in wine could suppress the growth of oral bacteria. But on the whole it’s likely that this won’t outweigh the damage that wine can do to your teeth. Wine is highly acidic. On average, wines have a pH of about 3.5, or 100 times the acid level required to break down tooth enamel (pH 5.5–lower numbers are more acidic, and each full point represents 10 times more acid ions). Really acidic wines can be 600 times stronger than necessary to break down tooth enamel.
This isn’t just bad for the structure of teeth, it’s bad for their appearance, making them more likely to stain. You might worry about red wine stains, but white wine can be just as bad. It might not stain teeth, but it’s more acidic, so it etches the surface more, making more places where stains can get trapped.
Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage. People praise it for its supposed benefits of antioxidants and reducing the speed of digesting carbs. But few of these benefits are really proven, and it is definitely bad for your teeth.
Normal tea is mildly acidic, with a pH of 5, and when drinking it the acid level at the tooth barely dips into the danger zone. But kombucha is much more acidic, with a pH as low as 2.5, or 1000 times the acidity required to break down tooth enamel. And since the taste of kombucha is, well, let’s say “strong,” many commercial kombuchas are also packed with sugar to make them more appetizing. Since many of the “proven” health benefits of kombucha are implied by the fact that it can be made from green tea, give your teeth a break and just drink green tea!
Sports drinks are supposed to help you stay hydrated when you exercise, so that’s good for you, right? They’re packed with all the electrolytes you need to restore what the body loses when you exercise, so that supposedly helps you get better workouts and be healthier afterward.
But there’s a problem: not only are these drinks about as acidic as kombucha, they can be packed with sugars, and that’s not what your teeth need when you’re dehydrated.
When you’re dehydrated from exercise, your mouth is already acidic, and it’s less able to neutralize the acid in a sports drink or fight the bacteria that flourish on sugar.
But it’s not just sports drinks to watch out for. Be wary of all sports bars and gels, as these are often not only high in sugar, but very sticky and often acidic. They can cling to your teeth and put them at risk for decay. Save these for very extreme situations, like when you’re actually competing in a marathon or triathlon. Otherwise, pure, neutral water is your best bet.
I know, this seems so 2008, but the truth is that many people still think that a lemonade cleanse is a good choice for cleaning out their system to get and stay healthy. In fact, here in South Carolina is one of the places where the trend is holding on strongest in the country.
But, of course, by now you know the drill: lemonade is very acidic, probably about as acidic as wine, and mixed with sugar in the form of maple syrup (more on this later). You might drink as much as 12 glasses of lemonade a day, constantly bathing your teeth in acid. And on top of that, you’re not chewing anything, so your body produces little saliva to neutralize the acid, protect your teeth, and restore minerals to your damaged enamel.
For the sheer intensity and length of exposure to acids, there is little that is worse for your teeth than this.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Having said that the lemonade cleanse is the worst for your teeth, we also want to let you know that many of the recommendations for apple cider vinegar are also the worst for your teeth! It’s one thing to have apple cider vinegar in recipes, but some people recommend swishing it around your teeth for oral health and teeth whitening!!! Don’t do this. Although apple cider vinegar is a relatively weak acid, it’s still strong enough that you don’t want to swish it around in your mouth on a daily basis. And if you must drink it, use a straw, please.
The worst thing about whitening with apple cider vinegar is that it seems to work, at first. As the acid removes the irreplaceable outer layers of your enamel, the surface stains come with it. But your teeth will likely stain again quickly, and repeating the process will thin your tooth enamel to the point that the yellowish dentin will show through, and then no amount of whitening will help, you’ll need veneers or crowns to whiten your smile.
One of the biggest lies in the health food industry is that some kinds of sugars are somehow healthier for your teeth than others.
Now it’s true that if you eat a piece of fruit, the sugar is not as bad because there’s fiber and liquid along with the sugar. But even this sugar is harmful if you eat too much of it.
And when you look at concentrated forms of “natural” sugars, like maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, date sugar, or what have you, they are all equally bad for your teeth. Sugar feeds parasitic microbes in your mouth, and that leads to cavities.
Need Help Keeping Your Teeth Healthy in Myrtle Beach?
Are you looking for a dentist in the Myrtle Beach and Carolina Forest area? Dr. Dustin Holladay is a top-rated general and cosmetic dentist who can help you maintain or restore your oral health.
At Carolina Forest Cosmetic Dentistry, we offer a full range of dental services to help people just like you maintain a healthy, beautiful smile that you will love to share. To learn more, please call (843) 903-3111 today for an appointment.