Tooth enamel plays an integral role in protecting your teeth. Without tooth enamel, the softer layer beneath, called dentin, is exposed. Dentin is not only more prone to discoloration and sensitivity, but exposed dentin increases a tooth’s risk for decay.
Keeping your tooth enamel healthy is essential for your oral health. But did you know tooth enamel is actually porous, and is affected by the foods and drinks we consume? Eating healthy foods is great, but some of them can be acidic and harmful to your smile.
What are the top acidic foods that could be harming your oral health?
Lemons and Other Citrus Fruits
Lemon water is a popular beverage, and touted for having detoxifying effects as well as improving the taste of regular water. While lemons add flavor to both drinks and food, lemon juice has a very low pH (just 2.5, which is the same as many sodas!) and has been shown toerode tooth enamel .
And lemon isn’t alone. Other citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits are also highly acidic and can damage tooth enamel. These fruits are high in vitamin C and have benefits for your body, but when eating them, be sure to drink plenty of water to minimize their damage to your teeth!
Sugar and Sweets
Sugar is known to weaken tooth enamel, and added sugars such as those found in sweets can contribute to tooth decay .
While natural sugars such as fruits are generally considered ok, it’s important to be wary about added sugars. A surprising amount of foods have added refined sugars, including yogurt, salad dressings, and even condiments.
While eating sugar in moderation is fine, it’s important to always wait at least one hour after eating sweets before brushing your teeth, and drink plenty of water to stop sugar from causing harmful bacteria that can contribute to enamel erosion!
Fermented and Pickled Foods
While fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt are excellent sources of probiotics, they are also acidic and can damage tooth enamel. Even pickles and other pickled foods can be very acidic and affect your smile.
Eating these foods can be beneficial to your health, so what can you do? As with the other foods, you can drink water to neutralize the acid and help protect your tooth enamel. Eating these foods in one sitting rather than munching on them throughout the day can also be helpful!
How to Protect Your Tooth Enamel
Strengthening your tooth enamel begins with taking proper care of your teeth. If you choose to eat the foods above, drink water and always wait 60 minutes after eating to brush your teeth. And as always, enjoy added sugars in moderation. You can help protect your tooth enamel by being mindful of the foods you eat and their effect on your smile!