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Scott M. Steckler, DDS
Top 10 Teeth-Damaging Snacks
Annapolis Dental Care

Top 10 Teeth-Damaging Snacks

Some people may be surprised, and certainly disappointed, that despite their best efforts of practicing good oral hygiene, they continue to get cavities. Unfortunately, practicing good oral hygiene is not enough.
The Chicago Dental Society recently polled nearly 200 members to determine the top ten snacks that undermine your best efforts to maintain a healthy smile. Listed first are the items which may come as the biggest surprise to you.
1. Bottled water. Nowadays, drinking local tap water is steadily being replaced by bottled water and water filtration systems. These tap water alternatives usually do not offer fluoride, which helps fight cavities. This is especially concerning for children and adolescents, whose diets and developing teeth put them at greater risk of tooth decay. Look for bottled water with fluoride added or ask your dentist about fluoride supplements.
2. Starches, like pasta, pretzels and potato chips. When you consume these high-carbohydrate foods, the enzymes in your saliva break them down into simple sugars. Oral bacteria then convert the sugar into acids, which degrade tooth enamel. Thus, for your teeth, a slice of bread is not much different than a piece of cake.
3. Medicinal products, like antacids, cough drops and breath mints. Gram for gram, these items may contain the same amount sugar as chocolate.
4. Sports drinks. Recent studies have shown these beverages to be worse than soda for your teeth. Sports drinks are very high in enamel-eroding sugars and organic acids. Opt for fluoride-containing water instead of sports drinks, except in cases of dehydration.
5. Coffee drinks. Your favorite mocha whipped treat can have as much sugar as a candy bar.
6. Juice. While juice offers nutritional benefits, unsweetened juice still contains loads of natural sugar. An 8-ounce glass of orange juice and a same-size serving of some sodas offer approximately the same amount of sugar, 30 grams.
7. Soda. Not only are sodas high in processed sugars, but they also contain enamel-eroding acids. Even diet sodas are high in these acids.
8. Hard candies. Sucking on these treats all day constantly bathes your teeth in sugar and the acid produced from the bacteria feeding on that sugar. Each exposure to sugar leads to 45 minutes of acid release by oral bacteria.
9. Gum. Chewing sugared gum also puts your teeth under constant assault of acid. Opt for gums of the sugarless variety. One sugar substitute, Xylitol, has even been shown to help prevent tooth decay.
10. Fruit-based products, like leathers and roll-ups. These snacks are not much different than candy in terms of sugar content and their ability to stick to your teeth, making them more prone to decay.
While it is preferable to consume healthy foods like vegetables, nuts, and whole grain breads, we are all also human. In addition to daily brushing and flossing, make sure to brush after consuming some of the offenders on this list. Finally, make sure you see your dentist for regular check-ups.

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