We all want that sparkling white Hollywood smile, yet everyday we are detrimentally destroying out teeth. It appears most of our favourite cafe drinks and office snacks are the biggest culprits! And ignoring these common items (and food trends) aren’t only saying goodbye to white teeth, but also damaging our overall oral health. Ew.
Angie Lang, dentist and founder of Swirlit – the world’s first functional oral health drink – shares the 12 things we are eating and drinking (or doing!) that are damaging our oral health:
Lemon water and apple cider vinegar
While the jury is out on the health benefits of drinking lemon water and apple cider as a health tonic for digestion, there is conclusive evidence on the negative effects of drinking these for our teeth. The enamel erosion it causes as a result of the high acidity which dissolves the white outer enamel layer of teeth leads to yellowing (fml) because we’re exposing the internal part of the tooth which become see-through, thin, weak and chip easily. The health trend of shotting apple cider vinegar in the morning just got a whole lot less sexy.
Drinking fruit juice
Getting a fruit juice on your lunch break for a health kick and the taste of sweet nutrients does come with a salty catch. It’s packed with sugars and acids which can also strip the teeth of their enamel, which leaves the inner parts of our teeth open to decay and damage. The average 500ml orange juice contains 10.5 teaspoons of sugar and has a pH of 3.6 which can cause some serious damage if our teeth are continually exposed.
Effervescent vitamin tablets
A fizzy vitamin drink can be just the boost we need when we’re feeling low on energy (*cough* we’re hungover AF). What’s best to do is rinse your mouth with tap water afterwards and wait half an hour before brushing teeth to reduce the risk of losing your enamel as you also to try to lose the hangover!
Brushing too soon after eating/drinking
If you’re like me, you probably want to brush your teeth straight after the garlic dip and crackers before your hot date. You’re not Shrek, you’re princess Fiona (when she’s human) – you don’t want to smell like an onion. However, if you brush your teeth immediately after eating, you are pushing the acid and sugar directly into your teeth, causing a lot of damage. Think about what happens when you put bleach on your bathroom grout before you scrub it. This is what you would be doing if you brush your teeth after eating something acidic or sugary. It’s recommended to wait for 30 minutes after eating or drinking anything but water before brushing your teeth.
My worst habit when I’m feeling awkward at a party! While some of us may enjoy the ice in our drinks, it can cause micro-cracks within our teeth. As tempting as it may be to chew on ice, try to resist the urge next time, because you don’t want to be making any emergency trips to the dentist.
Another one of my worst habits when I’m awkward at a party – raiding the salt and vinegar chips! Potato chips are loaded with starch, which can get caught in the deep grooves (fissures) and between our teeth. This will eventually turn into sugar and then cause a build-up of plaque, which will erode our teeth. Well, my diet starts now.
Most of us would be guilty of snacking throughout the day, however snacking on foods that have many hidden sugars can cause acid attacks on your tooth enamel. After a meal, the pH in the mouth drops making the mouth more acidic, but saliva is produced which neutralises the acids. If you’re snacking regularly, the saliva has less time to recover the pH meaning that the mouth remains in a more acidic state and acids aren’t fully neutralised.
Regularly drinking hot tea or coffee
English Breakfast tea is probably my go-to as soon as I wake up. Never did I think this would be a guilty pleasure. Tea and coffee both contain tannins, which build up on your tooth enamel and can cause staining. They can also dry your mouth out, which reduces your ability to produce saliva, which is critical for acid neutralisation. For me, my tea feels naked without sugar, but avoiding the temptation to add sugar in our tea and coffee will avoid dental decay. If you have a sweet tooth like me, you’ll probably have some bitter news at the dentist.
I feel like there’s so much wrong with energy drinks. Who actually thinks there’s anything beneficial about these drinks (besides the much-needed boost of energy)? They’re fluro yellow and taste like sweet petrol! However, energy drinks are often a staple within many people’s fridges, and the (obvious) truth is that these drinks are packed with sugar and are extremely acidic. The average energy drink contains 16 teaspoons of sugar, which is equivalent to a 600ml soft drink! Also, the average acidity in an energy drink is from 2.6-3.6, which will cause the breakdown of enamel. Opting for tap water or Swirlit would be a much better alternative.
Drinking bottled water
You might be thinking this is a trick. Often we fall into the trap of thinking that bottled water is safer than tap water, when in fact this is actually myth! Australian tap water is treated and subject to tight regulations and is the best and cheapest drink you can get for your teeth. Also, some bottled water can have very low pH levels, as low as 4.6, which can cause damage to your oral health. Not to mention the environmental impact of the plastic waste.
Kombucha screams ‘health fad’! They’re totally delicious and gut-friendly, yet the new ‘it’ drink can hurt our oral health. Kombucha must have a pH of 3.5 or below to ensure that harmful bacteria won’t grow in the bottle, but it can be as damaging to our teeth as a soft drink!
Sweet and salty popcorn is my go-to snack when I’m devilishly hungry or just had a fat rant over text to my boyfriend. In general, we all love to grab some popcorn when we are sitting down for a movie, yet popcorn can cause quite a bit of damage to our teeth. Just like ice, unpopped popcorn kernels can chip your teeth; as well as the outer shell of the kernels getting stuck between your teeth which can cause gum irritation and inflammation.
Which of these foods and/or drinks are you now going to avoid in exchange for better oral health and a Hollywood smile? Tell us in the comments below!