You may have heard the saying: You are what you eat! This is particularly true when it comes to your teeth. There are certain crunchy foods that are good for your teeth and then, there are others that are not. If you eat the wrong crunchy foods, you stand a good chance of permanently damaging your teeth. While this may sound ominous, it’s true.
The best crunchy foods, however, typically contain a lot of water and require a lot of chewing. This helps neutralize the sugar content and the chewing helps release saliva so that the food does not get stuck in the crannies and crevices of your teeth. Good crunchy foods also help wipe away plaque-causing bacteria. Bad crunchy foods, on the other hand, cause obvious as well as covert damage to your teeth. You should keep in mind that fat does not cause cavities, but starches and sugars do. In this article, we’ll talk about the best and worst crunchy foods for your teeth. So, here goes…
The Best Crunchy Foods
- Raw vegetables: Most raw vegetables are fiber-rich. One of these is celery, which has a rough, fibrous texture, due to which it scrubs away food particles and acts as nature’s floss. Other vegetables that are good for your teeth include raw carrots, broccoli, and peppers. These stimulate saliva and are a good source of vitamins and minerals.
- Raw fruits: Again, these are a great source of fiber. An apple not only keeps the doctor away but also the dentist! It scrubs your tooth surfaces and helps stimulate saliva. Raw pears also help to neutralize acids.
- Nuts: Many nuts provide vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and Vitamin D, which helps promote healthy teeth. Nuts also require a lot of chewing, which stimulates the production of saliva.
- Sugarless chewing gum: Chewing sugar-free gum actually helps to clean your teeth. Its sticky texture is great at getting in between teeth and clearing away plaque. The chewing action also promotes the production of saliva and helps clear out acids in the mouth.
- Cheese, milk, plain yogurt, and other dairy products: Cheese and yogurt are other saliva makers. Cheese contains calcium, and other dairy products contain calcium and phosphates, which help put minerals back in your teeth.
- Dark Chocolate: Your teeth would be a lot better if you had 70 percent dark chocolate, rather than pretzels and crackers. It may sound unbelievable, but it’s true! This is because dark chocolate has a higher fat content and a lower carbohydrate content as compared to crackers. Cavity-causing bacteria will need to process both the fat and the sugar in dark chocolate, and so, will process the sugar a little more slowly. Dark chocolate also contains some chemicals that may strengthen your enamel. However, the same cannot be said for milk chocolate. The latter does not have as high a fat content as dark chocolate, but it is still better than most other candies. What’s more, manufacturers now make dark chocolate with xylitol instead of sugar. Xylitol may actually prevent cavities on its own.
The Worst Crunchy Foods
- Sticky candies and sweets: Do not eat lollipops, caramels, and cough drops that contain refined sugar. Some studies have shown that chocolate is not as bad for the teeth as other crunchy candies and sweets that stick to your teeth.
- Starchy foods that can get stuck in your mouth: Soft breads can get stuck in between your teeth. These contribute to the building up of plaque, if not cleared immediately by brushing or flossing.
- Popcorn: Popcorn can cause microscopic cracks in your enamel. Also, the kernels can get stuck under the gum, causing a painful irritation, which can sometimes result in infection. This is called “Popcorn Gingivitis.” If you have suffered from this, a dental cleaning or periodontal maintenance exam can help. Our dental hygienists at Tacoma Dental Group see this often and will help remove those pesky kernels.
- Crackers: These are highly processed starch, which in our mouths, turn into sticky goo that gets caught in between our teeth. Bacteria then feed on them and they get converted to plaque. If you absolutely must eat crackers, try whole-grain ones, because they take longer to get converted into sugar.
- Potato chips and pretzels: Similar to crackers and soft bread, potato chips and pretzels contain starch that gets converted into sugar in your mouth. They tend to linger in the grooves of your teeth, where they are then converted into bacteria.
- Ice: Many people chew ice and this is very harmful to your teeth. This may damage your enamel in the long run, as ice is frozen water that can cause microscopic cracks in your enamel, causing larger problems over time. We often need to place a Dental Crown over the fractured tooth and I have seen some teeth fracture so badly they ultimately require and extraction. Be wary of chewing ice!
- Peanut brittle: This puts as much stress on your teeth as chewing ice! With peanut brittle you are chewing hardened sugar, which is not good for your teeth. In fact, if you regularly chew peanut brittle, you may be like many patients at Tacoma Dental Group and end up calling me on a weekend for an Emergency Exam!
So, these are some of the best and worst crunchy foods for your teeth. Be careful what you eat, to protect your teeth. All foods are not equal, particularly when it comes to your teeth. If you are not sure which crunchy foods are good for you, visit us at the Tacoma Dental Group for a consultation and get all of your doubts cleared away. Here’s to perfect oral health!