Sugar is unhealthy for oral health. Harmful bacteria in our mouth consume it and spread. However, it is the bacteria's' waste product – acid – that causes oral health problems such as tooth decay and discolored teeth. Therefore, two types of food and drink can be even more harmful than sugar. The first type is any food that ferments more quickly than sugar, allowing harmful bacteria to eat more quickly and excrete acid sooner. The second type is acidic food and drink that directly attacks the teeth, bypassing the phase where bacteria eat the food particles and excrete acid.
Foods More Harmful Than Sugar
Saltine crackers, due to their highly-processed starch, are more likely to cause cavities than sugar. In addition, saltine crackers become mushy and sticky when chewed, which increases the chances of them getting stuck between teeth for harmful bacteria to swarm. Refined bread has similar problems as saltine crackers, with the bread fermenting easily and getting stuck between teeth after consumption. Potato chips are high in starch, which easily converts to sugar, which can boost the activity and number of harmful bacteria in the mouth. Grapefruit has a high amount of citric acid, which damages the teeth's enamel and renders teeth vulnerable to plaque and bacteria.
Coffee contains tannic acids which can lead to tooth erosion and tooth decay. Diet sodas are more acidic than regular sodas due to the increased phosphoric acid, which can wreak havoc on teeth. Lemon-based drinks such as lemon iced tea have low pH levels which weakens enamel and promotes the growth of harmful bacteria. Sour candies replace sugars with a variety of acids, and their stickiness makes them harder to remove.
If you have questions about how your dietary habits affect your oral health, call our office for a consultation and a dental exam.