Good oral hygiene relies on a number of factors, including brushing and flossing, eating well, rinsing regularly, and limiting foods and drinks that cause cavities. While it's common knowledge that sugar and carbs can cause plaque buildup, it's important to know which foods to avoid in excess. There's nothing wrong with adhering to the idea of everything in moderation, but be careful not to overindulge in these five cavity-causing foods and drinks:
"Regular and diet soda wears down tooth enamel."
1. All soda
The carbonation in soda, no matter if it's regular or diet, wears down tooth enamel. Even though diet soft drinks don't have sugar, they can still cause cavities for this reason. Moreover, many sodas are highly acidic, which also weakens enamel over time. All in all, drinking soda on a regular basis can quickly lead to cavities. However, if you're going to drink it, use a straw to minimize contact with your teeth.
2. Foods that are sticky
Sticky candy is a well-known offender of causing cavities, but other sticky foods can harm your teeth as well. Dried fruit, potato chips, popcorn and bread can all get stuck in your teeth and encourage erosion. Prevention, a health publication, notes that popcorn in particular causes two distinct oral health risks.1 For one, popcorn can easily get stuck in your teeth, but also, the un-popped kernels can break teeth when you bite down on them. When possible, brush and rinse your teeth after consuming sticky foods in order to wash away as much as possible.
3. Citrus fruits and juices
Citrus fruits, tomatoes and pickles are all particularly acidic, and hence can cause damage to enamel if consumed too often. What's more, avoid sucking on these fruits or keeping them in your mouth for longer than necessary. Fruit juices, likewise, are acidic and sometimes contain added sugar for taste. Together, sugar and acid can take a real toll on your teeth. Though citrus fruits and juices certainly can contribute to healthy diet, remain aware of the possible damages caused by acid erosion, and rinse your mouth out afterward when possible.
4. Desserts and candy
Both gummy and hard candies can cause cavities, but desserts such as cookies, cakes and brownies also can harm your teeth due to how much sugar is in them. One thing many people don't realize about candy is that it's not just the raw sugar content, but also the fact that candy remains in your mouth for a long time. Items such as lollipops or other hard candies that you suck on allow bacteria plenty of opportunities to eat away at the sugar that coats your teeth and mouth.
5. Excess alcohol
According to Mouth Healthy, a website run by the American Dental Association, drinking excessively may reduce saliva flow, which can ultimately lead to tooth decay.2 The source notes that alcohol causes dry mouth, and saliva performs the important function of rinsing away bacteria and helping to prevent plaque buildup.
1 "25 Foods Dentists Won't Eat," by Katie Drummond, Prevention, Jan. 31, 2013. http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/25-foods-dentists-wont-eat
2"Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth," American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/nutrition/food-tips/9-Foods-That-Damage-Your-Teeth