A Healthy Summer Diet for the Sake of Your Teeth
I tell my patients that there are types of food and drink they should avoid. Sugary, acidic, hard, processed, and sticky food or drinks are generally not good for teeth and gums. When you break it down, these food groups are either naturally acidic or feed the bacteria found in plaque.
When it comes to hard foods, the danger comes from cracking or chipping a tooth and potentially high sugar content. The following food and drinks are not the best selections for a healthy summer diet. Unfortunately, they are typically consumed more often in the summer months, increasing the risk of oral health problems.
Sugary Drinks & Sodas
You have probably already noticed a trend in the types of foods and drinks that are likely to damage teeth. So, it is no surprise that sodas such as cola with high sugar content are on the list of drinks to avoid. What you may not realize is that even zero or low-sugar drinks are not necessarily healthy. Many of these drinks are highly acidic and will feed the bacteria in your mouth. For optimal oral health, avoid these drinks as much as possible.
Most candy treats fall into at least one of the several of the risk categories. Sugary, sticky, processed, or hard candy can lead to oral health problems. Some candy may also fall under multiple categories, which makes this summer treat one to avoid. Hard candy is a usual suspect when it comes to tooth damage in both children and adults. Even if you avoid biting into hard candy, it will stick to teeth as it dissolves in the mouth and makes cleaning more difficult. The result is an increase in plaque and tartar forming on the teeth and under the gumline.
Raisins & other Dried Fruit
Young children love raisins and other dried fruit snacks. Fruit is one of your five-a-day, so these snacks must be healthy, right? The issue with dried fruit, such as raisins, is the sugar content and stickiness of the treat. Young teeth can suffer from the formation of cavities and decay if a child is allowed to overeat dried fruit. The same principle applies to fruit juices and canned fruit due to added sugar content.
If you enjoy sweet coffee, you may be sacrificing your oral health for the pleasure. Sugary, acidic, and processed sweet coffee is one of the worst drinks for damaging teeth. Teeth staining is the least of your problems when you consider that many of these store-bought drinks contain more sugar than many well-known soda brands. It is important to reduce sugar intake as much as possible, so consider switching to the classic Americana if you can’t kick the habit completely.
Unfortunately, even a staple food group such as dairy products can contain high sugar content. Lactose and sugar are the main issues with dairy products. The bacteria in your mouth will thrive on dairy products such as milk, cheese, or yogurt.
Healthy Food & Drink
In a healthy summer diet, leafy greens rank right at the top. For snacks, nuts are a great alternative to raisins and other dried fruit. Whole fruits that have not been processed or had sugar added are also healthy snacks. If you like a salad in the summer, add carrots and tomatoes for antioxidants and vitamins.
Remember, healthy teeth make a healthy smile!
Dr. Nishan Halim
Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in a comprehensive approach to dental care in his Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. When treatment plans include specialty work, he coordinates every step with the practitioners you choose from his referral network. Contact Dr. Halim to schedule an appointment.