You brush twice daily, floss, go to yearly dental check-ups; you even got your teeth whitened last year, but is your smile is less than sparkling?
It might be your diet or a bad habit that’s messing with your teeth. Here’s a list of the 15 absolute worst foods, habits, and beverages for your teeth and gums…
1. Grinding Teeth
Maybe you started grinding your teeth in your sleep. Or perhaps it’s your go-to stress reliever when the heat rises at work. Whatever the case, grinding your pearly whites will eventually wear down your enamel so much that you’ll end up with tooth decay and serious pain. To prevent this habit, try wearing a mouth guard while you sleep.
When it comes to hidden sugar content, sodas are the best delivery system. One single can packs up to 10 teaspoons of the sweet stuff—not to mention phosphoric and citric acids, which act as a preservative yet erode the protective enamel covering your teeth. And before you reach for diet soda to avoid the sugar keep in mind that you’ll be sipping even more phosphoric and citric acid to make up for lost sugar.
3. Munching Ice Cubes
No, chewing on ice isn’t just annoying as heck; it ruins your teeth too. Think about it; munching down on hard, frozen objects can leave you with a painful chip or crack in a tooth or leave you with a nasty toothache. Plus, you might find you’ve worn away so much enamel from your bad habit that hot and cold foods and drinks suddenly give your teeth a sharp jolt of pain.
4. Mindlessly Chewing
I know that chewing on that pen helps you think, but just like the ice, chewing on a hard object can leave your teeth chipped or cracked, and wear away at protective enamel. If you want to chew on something, try an apple or a piece of sugarless gum instead.
5. Starchy Snacks
Potato chips, cheese balls, crackers, and pretzels all deliver that satisfying crunch, but at what cost? Keep in mind that those starchy snack foods that tend to stick to your teeth create a breeding ground for bacteria—plaque bacteria that turns into acid and wears away the protective enamel on your teeth. That’s why it’s alright to enjoy a starchy snack, just as long as you brush and floss immediately after.
6. Baby Bottles at Night
Now giving baby a daytime bottle is all fine and dandy. However, putting baby to bed with a bottle of anything other than water will lead to quick and early tooth decay. Falling to sleep with a bottle of juice, milk, or formula basically bathes baby’s mouth in sugar all night long. If suckling is absolutely needed in order for your little one to fall asleep, give them a pacifier instead.
Coffee is a must-have pick-me-up first thing in the morning and mid-afternoon for many of us. However, the glorious brew is guilty of 2 dreadful tooth sins—acid and discoloration. Not only will coffee stain your teeth yellow over time; the acid will also damage your tooth enamel. So get in the habit of brushing after chugging that morning cup of Joe.
8. Tongue Piercings
I guess a tongue piercing might say rebel to some. However, the only thing you’re revolting against is the inside of your mouth. This trendy piercing poses a lot of inner mouth turmoil—for instance, you could bite down on the metal stud and crack a tooth, slowly wear away at your teeth and gums from the metal rubbing against the inside of your mouth, end up with a nasty bacterial mouth infection, or swallow a loose piercing and choke while sleeping.
9. Hard Candy
Sure, hard candy is no better than any other sugary treat. However, the hard sugary stuff promotes tooth decay a little faster than the rest. Firstly, hard candy is extremely sticky. It coats your teeth with sugar and acid, and if you don’t brush, it sits there on your teeth until you do. Secondly, biting down hard on a candy may accidently crack or chip one you’re your chompers.
10. Fruit Juice
You might opt for fruit juice over water for the added vitamins and antioxidants. However, most store-bought juices are nothing more than sugar water with added fruit flavoring. And that’s why you’re rinsing the inside of your teeth and gums with every time you take a swig. Instead, opt for 100-percent real fruit juice with no added sugar and brush right after drinking.
11. Unprotected Contact Sports
You might like to toss the pig skin around or maybe you’d rather strap on a pair of skates and play shinny. Regardless of which you prefer, football or hockey, there’s one essential piece of equipment you’re forgetting—your protective mouth guard! This protected piece of molded plastic shields your upper teeth from hard contact that might chip, damage, or knock out a tooth.
Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and cigars ruin your teeth, period. Not only will smoking turn your dazzling whites a disguising shade of yellowish-brown, it will gradually rot away at your mouth and leave you prone to gum disease and cancer of the mouth and tongue.
13. Cough Drops
A few times a year you might need to pop a few cough drops as a medicinal remedy to soothe a nasty cough or sore throat. However, getting into the habit of popping lozenges is bad medicine for your teeth and gums. Reason being, most over-the-counter cough candies are packed with sugar to make the medicinal ingredients taste good, so you’ll end up with tooth decay and cavities.
14. Opening Bottles
My dad used to open bottles of beer and pop with his teeth. He thought he was cool and at just 20-years old he might have appeared just that. However, by 30 he’d chipped and cracked his teeth so badly that he needed a partial plate. And trust me; no 30-year-old looks cool with false teeth. So take heed kids, opening bottle caps or anything else with your teeth might seem cool at the time, but a handy pocket bottle cap opener or a pair of scissors will keep your smile looking great at 50.
15. Red Wine
A glass of red wine with dinner might be good for your heart, but it’s not so flattering for your teeth if you don’t brush straight after you swig. Red wine is high in a deep crimson pigment called chromogen and this mixed with tannins makes that color that looks so great in your glass permanently stain your teeth—long after that bottle is empty.