7 Foods You Eat That Destroy Your Tooth
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July 1, 2014, last updated March 29, 2015
By L. Carr, Contributing Columnist

Teeth are tough, and enamel – the thin outer cover for the tooth – is
toughest of all. Did you know that enamel is the hardest tissue in the
body? But it is not indestructible. Enamel is a translucent cap that
covers the crown of the tooth, the part that is visible at the top of the
gums. Tooth enamel may form a strong protective layer but it is
vulnerable to the damaging effects of certain foods, drinks, and habits.
What are you eating that damages your tooth enamel? What should
you avoid for the healthiest, strongest teeth?

Why is Tooth Enamel Important?

Enamel protects the teeth from the daily rigors of biting, grinding, and
chewing. It is also important for insulating the tooth from high
temperatures and protects against potentially harmful chemicals, which
is why damaged tooth enamel can result in teeth that are sensitive to
hot and cold foods and drinks. Unlike chipped or broken bone, the
body cannot repair chipped enamel – there are no living cells in enamel
so once the damage is done, it is done forever. As well as chips and
cracks, tooth enamel is susceptible to erosion.

What Causes Enamel Erosion?

Enamel is eroded when acids in food and drink wear it away. Erosion is
caused by bacteria that live in the mouth which thrive in the presence
of certain food components, particularly carbohydrates and sugars.
When sugars and acidic foods stick to your teeth they react with the
bacteria to produce lactic acid, which damages your enamel. Eroded
enamel results in tooth sensitivity and cavities (dental caries).

Factors that contribute to the erosion potential of foods and drinks
include dry mouth or low flow of salvia, acid reflux disease, some
medications like aspirin, and gastrointestinal problems.

To make sure your teeth are strong enough to last you a lifetime, don’t
eat these seven foods or drink these beverages.

Soda Damages Tooth Enamel

It’s not just the empty calories in Coke you need to worry about –
sodas and carbonated beverages are the biggest culprits when it comes
to tooth enamel erosion.

A 2004 study from Johannes-Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany
showed that drinking carbonated beverages weakens and permanently
destroys tooth enamel over time. This study found that canned ice tea
and non-Cola carbonated beverages were particularly harmful because
these drinks contain high levels of flavor additives like malic and tartaric
acids, which are responsible for enamel erosion.

A 2007 study from the University of Tennessee showed
all carbonated
cola and non-cola beverages dissolved enamel. The combination of
sugar and acid is lethal to teeth.

You would expect Coke and other high-sugar sodas to erode your
tooth enamel, based on sugar’s effects on the teeth.

But many people think diet drinks are fine since they have no added
sugar. This is not the case – 2013 from the University of Nebraska
Medical Center College of Dentistry in Lincoln, shows diet drinks are no
better than their regular counterparts for your teeth. Diet drinks have
high levels of phosphoric or citric acid which cause dental erosion.

On the other hand,
water high in bicarbonates actually protect your
teeth against erosion.
Read more.

Hard Foods that Crack Enamel

Hard foods and foods with hard elements can damage your tooth
enamel by causing it to chip and crack. Corn on the cob, ice, popcorn,
hard candies, toasted bread and even apples can be problematic.

If you do eat these hard foods, make sure you cut them into bite-size
pieces, make sure you don’t inadvertently chomp down on uncooked
popcorn kernels, and avoid chewing on the ice in your drinks.

Sour Candies are Worse than Sweet for Your Teeth

Hard candy is bad for your teeth, that’s a fact. But did you know that
choosing sour over sweet could damage your enamel to an even
greater extent? According to a 2009 study by Minnesota Dental
Association's Public Relations Committee published in the Journal of the
American Dental Association, teeth exposed to sour candy had
significantly softer enamel than teeth exposed to sweet hard candy.

The researchers looked at the sweet and sour counterparts of brands
like Jolly Rancher and Twizzlers. They dissolved the candies in water
and dipped teeth into the mixture, before examining the surface of the
enamel with microscopes. Sour candies have higher levels of citric,
malic and fumaric acids that give them their distinctive tang.

Citrus Fruits Harm Your Tooth Enamel

Citrus fruit may have great health benefits but it is also particularly bad
for your teeth.

Oranges, tangerines, mandarins, grapefruit and other citrus contain
citric acid, which is a prime cause of tooth enamel erosion. A 1991
study from the University of Stellenbosch, Tugerberg, Republic of
South Africa showed that a high consumption of citrus fruit resulted in
a high level of dental caries.

Citrus juices pack a more concentrated punch as the acid is more
readily available. Fruit smoothies are also acidic and produce a
significant erosion of enamel, according to a 2014 study from Leeds
Dental Institute, UK. You don’t have to stop drinking juices completely,
but sip in moderation and rinse your mouth afterwards.

Sports Drinks Cause Tooth Enamel Decay….

Keeping hydrated during exercise is important but did you relies you
could be damaging your teeth in the process? According to a 2005
study from the University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia sports
drinks often have strong acids and can cause erosion, so drink them
sparingly and try not to sip over a long period of time which maximizes
the effect the acids have on your teeth.

6. …
And Flavored Sparkling Water is A Problem, Too

Flavored water is not a pure choice for hydration, either. Scientists
suggest that flavored sparkling water should be considered a
potentially acidic drink, rather than water with flavor added. A 2007
study from the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Dental
Hospital, UK revealed that sparkling flavored waters demonstrated
erosive potential similar or greater to pure orange juice.

Vinegar is a Tooth Enamel Problem

Vinegar is a great way to add flavor to salads and dressings without
packing on the calories, but vinegar can be a problem for your teeth as
it is acidic. A 2014 study by I Willershausen, V Weyer, D Schulte, F
Lampe, S Buhre, and B Willershausen published in the European
Journal of Medical Research showed Bio vinegar and raspberry vinegar
had a particularly erosive effect on teeth. If you want to protect your
teeth from the effects of vinegar dressing, add shiitake mushrooms to
the salad – a 2001 study from the University of Amsterdam and VU
University Amsterdam, The Netherlands shows an extract of shiitake
mushrooms helps protect your teeth against enamel erosion and

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Drinking orange juice can damage your tooth enamel.