Foods that harm your smile

The foods you eat really can have a visible effect on your smile. Here, dentist Dr Richard Marques explains why some foods can stain and damage teeth, and how to make small changes to keep your smile looking great this winter.

  • Citrus fruits have a high acid content which can damage the tooth enamel. Swap these for less acidic options like bananas and watermelons, and always drink any fruit juices through a straw.
  • Crisps are full of starch that turns into sugar in the mouth. This then gets trapped between the teeth and creates bacteria causing plaque, so always be sure to floss after eating!
  • Popcorn can also get stuck in the spaces between your teeth causing a build-up of plaque. You should be wary of un-popped kernels that can chip the teeth, and if you do choose to snack on popcorn, avoid adding salt or sugar.
  • White bread contains simple carbohydrates including sugar which dissolves in the mouth, creating erosive acids when you chew. Rinse with a mouthwash after consuming and use dental floss to prevent build ups.
  • Tomatoes are surprisingly acidic, which can cause tooth erosion and damage to the enamel. If eating them raw, always consume with other foods such as in a salad, as this will not directly expose your teeth.
  • Sour sweets contain several types of acids and tend to be chewy, which means they are likely to stick to your teeth for longer than a hard sweet. Always wait at least an hour after eating sweets before brushing to give the enamel a chance to re-harden.
  • Balsamic vinegar can be particularly damaging to your teeth as it is deeply pigmented and full of acid, so will stain the teeth and cause erosion. Drink a glass of water after you eat anything containing vinegar to help clear any lingering acids.
Dr Richard Marques
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