From the time we are young, we are swayed against eating too many sugary, syrupy sweets to avoid the dreaded cavity. Sugar makes the mouth more acidic which, over time, can wear away at tooth enamel. This weakened enamel then becomes more susceptible to damage. Many people do not realize that some of the biggest culprits of cavities are in the most unexpected eats!
Common Cavity Causers:
Dried Fruit: Though often dismissed as a healthier treat, dried fruits are very high in sugar. Dried fruit is known for its thick, gummy bite, which causes the sugar to get stuck and settle between your teeth for prolonged periods of time, sometimes hours. Within that time, more bacteria develop in the mouth and initiate the slow process of dental erosion.
Pickled Vegetables: Pickling started as a way of preserving food items in brine or vinegar for the purpose of rationing and survival. Pickling has now become a means of ensuring flavor. The snap pickling provides in each bite is delicious, but dangerous. The acid in vinegar gradually wears away at the enamel of teeth, which not only makes them more vulnerable to cavities, but can cause staining.
Wine: Both red and white wines alike contain large amounts of erosive acid. This softens the enamel of teeth, and can do so within minutes. In red wine in particular, tannins (an organic substance containing different types of gallic acid) not only weaken enamel, but dry out the mouth and stain the teeth.
Citrus & Fruit Juice: As with the other items on our list, the acid in citrus fruit damages enamel, making teeth more prone to cavities. Fruit juices are acidic on their own but also raise the level of acid the body produces in the mouth. The gradual erosion of enamel that results from this makes teeth more sensitive overall.
Coffee and Tea: Like red wine, some teas contain a large amount of tannin, which naturally causes a large amount of staining. In fact, black teas often stain more than coffee! Stick to the general guideline the darker the drink, the darker the stain. If you can’t live without your caffeine fix, sip coffee or tea through a straw to lessen staining.
Crackers: Crackers are an example of a refined carbohydrate. This means many of its original carbohydrates are stripped away, leaving only the easy-to-digest carbs (better known as starch and sugar). Ingesting a lot of these refined carbohydrates is known to cause inflammation in the body. This inflammation then plays a bigger role in a number of chronic diseases like periodontitis (irritation around tissues that support the teeth) and gingivitis (general inflammation of the gums).
These items do not have to be cut out of your diet completely. Enjoy these foods in moderation and to visit your dentist regularly to ensure the health of your teeth.
Robert Levine is an internationally acclaimed dental implant surgeon and board certified periodontist. He works at Pennsylvania Center for Dental Implants & Periodontics, a center that specializes in implant surgical placement, and regenerative and reconstructive periodontal procedures. Robert takes pride is providing his patients with esthetically enhanced smiles.