While you probably already know that sugary foods can contribute to tooth decay, there are a bunch of less obvious culprits that could be corroding your smile.
You brush your teeth daily, have flossed since you were a kid and even visit your dentist twice a year for a professional cleaning. But when it comes to dental health, taking care of your choppers is only part of the battle.
You are what you eat, and while you probably already know that sugary foods like candy and soft drinks can contribute to tooth decay, there are a bunch of less obvious culprits that could be corroding your smile. Cosmetic dentist and founder of Apa Beauty product line Dr. Michael Apa, D.D.S., who practices in New York City and Dubai, has some great tips to keep you out of his dental chair. Read on!
1. Red Wine
Red wine may be delicious and full of wonderful flavonoids, well-known antioxidants that can help with inflammation and protect cell structure, but when it comes to your teeth you might want to be careful. While red wine may be less acidic than the white varieties, Dr. Apa warns that just a glass of merlot could cause staining. The good news is you don't have to drink your cab or pinot noir out of a straw to keep your smile bright and shiny — simply rinse your mouth with water after drinking it. Phew!
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Lemons may be low in calories, packed with fiber and high in vitamin C, but don't ever think about sucking on a whole lemon or drinking undiluted lemon juice. "Lemons erode your enamel due to acidity," explains Dr. Apa, who advises against letting your teeth come into contact with any sort of lemon concentrate. Luckily you don't have to avoid the tart citrus altogether. Adding lemon juice to your favorite foods is totally fine, as is drinking water with as much lemon squeezed into it as you please.
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Loaded with antioxidants, coffee not only has the cognitive effect of perking you up, but it can lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes, cancer, Parkinson's and may even be able to help extend your life, according to some studies. Unfortunately, sucking down this darkest of beverages won't do any favors for your pearly whites. According to Dr. Apa, drinking black coffee stains your fangs. Luckily, there's an easy solution: Dilute it and drink from a straw. "Drink a venti quad espresso with milk and extra ice from Starbucks like I do. Just use a straw," he suggests.
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Pistachios are not only a low-sodium food, but they are also low in carbohydrates and packed with protein, fiber, healthy fats, minerals like copper, phosphorus and manganese and two of the B vitamins. Snapping pistachio shells in your mouth is even kinda fun, right? Unfortunately, by using your teeth to crack them you may be chipping them and not even know it. Instead of opting for the shell-on version, Dr. Apa suggests buying your nuts shelled — unless you want to end up in his office.
Deep and earthy, the savory blend of spices has many people around the world hooked — and the health benefits aren't bad either. Curry powders are known to reduce inflammation, aid in digestion and even protect against certain cancers and Alzheimer's disease. But the boldly flavored dishes aren't exactly doing any favors for your teeth: The vibrantly hued spices can actually stain them. In addition to keeping your curry intake to a minimum, Dr. Apa suggests brushing your teeth within 20 minutes of enjoying a plate of curry or swishing water around in your mouth.
6. Green Juice
Green juice is pretty much the holy grail of health, as it is typically made with a bevy of raw fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals. But the greenish hue isn't quite kosher for your cuspids. According to Dr. Apa, the green pigmentation can stain them. However, you shouldn't quit consuming your daily greens — just don't chug them straight from the bottle if you want to keep your teeth white instead of tinted to match your paper folding money. "Sip your green juice through a straw," he suggests.
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Beets are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals and are low in calories, fat and sodium. Whether you prefer adding them to salads or juicing them to drink, they can sweeten your day without using up too much of your daily recommended amount of sugar. But Dr. Apa warns that their gorgeous reddish hue can cling to your canines and tint them that beautiful shade of beet red. Not so pretty, right? Whether sipping them in a smoothie or chomping them on their own, just make sure to brush your teeth after eating.
What Do YOU Think?
Are you surprised by any of these suggestions? What other foods do you think are damaging to teeth? Do you have any smile-saving tips?