Most people take good care of their smile, making brushing and flossing part of their daily oral hygiene routine. However, many people do not realize that what they eat and drink can have a profound effect on their dental health and appearance. Here are five of the top offenders.

Ice

The number one contender in the battle against a better smile is ice. Yes: sugar-free, non-staining, made-from-water ice is actually an enemy in disguise. Dieters love that they can enjoy unlimited ice without one measly calorie. But crunching ice cubes can crack or chip a tooth. In fact, ice-cube damage is one of the most common dental emergencies we treat. It’s best to settle for cooling, no- or low-calorie drinks with ice instead of crunching it.

Coffee and Tea

There is nothing like that first cup of Joe in the morning to get the engine running. However, drinks with caffeine should be consumed in moderation. Good oral health requires moisture in the mouth, and caffeine dries it out. A dry mouth is uncomfortable and can cause cracked tongues and even tooth loss.

Coffee and tea also stain the teeth. After you have your shot of caffeine, it’s important to drink water to rinse out your mouth. (Brushing would be even better, but that’s not always practical.) For those who pay good money for a white smile, consumption of these two offenders should be minimized or avoided.

Hard Candy

Popping a peppermint or cinnamon disc after a garlicky lunch is just common courtesy, right? After all, nobody wants to smell bad breath. But as with ice cubes, biting into a hard mint or candy can crack or chip a tooth – a painful experience that’s inconvenient and can be expensive to fix. Sucking on hard candies can be almost as bad, as it bathes your teeth in a sugar solution for several minutes, providing a nice breeding ground for bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gum disease. A better solution to bad breath is to chew a piece of sugar-free gum or suck – don’t  chew – a sugar-free breath mint.

Citrus

A squeeze of lemon or lime into still or sparkling water will perk up the drink. Dieters rely on this added flavor when they are trying to get in their eight glasses of water per day. But lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits contain citric acid that can erode the enamel on teeth. Enamel protects the tooth from decay, and when it’s gone, the tooth is in great danger. Acidic foods and drinks should be consumed rarely. After eating or drinking something acidy, drink a glass of water to flush the mouth.

Sticky Foods

Raisins, caramels, and bubble-gum all have one thing in common: they are sticky enemies of the mouth. Sugary, sticky foods adhere to the teeth and gum areas, providing a perfect place for harmful bacteria to thrive. Sticky foods can also pull off caps and lift fillings. It is best to avoid these foods for optimum oral health. If they have been consumed, brush, floss well, and then rinse thoroughly with water.

* * *

Need help with your smile? Lane Avenue Family Dentistry provides a full suite of dental health services in Jacksonville. Contact us.