Originally posted here.
The dog days of summer in Northern VA are here, and many of us are cooling down on these hot days with iced cold beverages and sweet treats. But before you indulge too much in those party foods that we all know and love to enjoy during the summer months, it’s good to know which foods impact your dental health the most and which are good for your teeth.
That being said, here are three summer foods and beverages you ought to avoid this season and three foods you can guiltlessly indulge in.
Which foods are bad for my teeth?
- Fruity, sugar drinks. While your kids are enjoying those fruity, sugar drinks, chances are you’re indulging in a sugary cocktail of your own. Unfortunately, while these drinks may be tasty at the time, they can do some serious harm to your teeth if you indulge in them too much. Alcoholic beverages, in particular, are more acidic than your average fruit drink. Acids can eat away at your enamel, putting you at greater risk of cavities. It’s no wonder that tooth decay is 20 times more common than diabetes and five times as common as childhood asthma. While a few of these fruity drinks throughout the week is fine, remember that water is the best way to keep you and your family cool and hydrated throughout the summer.
- Pickles. Speaking of acids, pickles are another acidic food that is best left on the plate during your summer barbecue. Pickles are covered in vinegar and acids, which can hurt your tooth enamel over time if you eat too many of them. To help protect your teeth when you do enjoy them during a meal, rinse your mouth with water after eating. This will help to prevent sensitivity and enamel erosion.
- Iced coffee. Iced coffee is a fan-favorite when it comes to the summer months. Unfortunately, iced coffee also has its downsides. Depending on how you take your coffee, some iced coffee beverages come with sugary flavored syrups that can put you at risk of tooth decay. Chewing on the leftover ice cubes when you’re done with your drink can also put you at risk for chipping your teeth. If you do drink iced coffee this summer, consider drinking your coffee black and avoiding the leftover ice cubes.
Which foods are good for my teeth?
- Cheeseburgers. Or, more specifically, the cheese on that cheeseburger. Dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurt that are low in sugar are a great way to protect and strengthen your enamel because they contain calcium and phosphorous. Eating dairy has the potential to lower your chances of developing gum disease with the right preventative care and proper dental hygiene. So don’t sweat those cheeseburgers during your summer barbecue.
- Watermelon. Watermelon is perhaps the most popular summer fruit enjoyed across the United States. Not only is it sweet and delicious but this fruit is also great for your teeth and your health. Watermelon is 90% water, which means you’re hydrating yourself when you eat it. Foods that are high in water content also help to wash away bacteria and the food particles that feed that bacteria away from your teeth. That means when you’re eating watermelon you’re doing your own preventative care by helping to prevent cavities and neutralizing any harmful acids that may be lingering on your teeth.
- Raw vegetables. Late summer and early fall are some of the best times for fruits and veggies, and indulging in raw in-season vegetables is not only great for your health but also your teeth. Certain vegetables like broccoli, celery, cauliflower, and carrots serve as natural toothbrushes. They help to scrub residue and food particles from your teeth as you eat them. These veggies also help to hydrate you and stimulate your saliva production. Saliva helps to naturally wash away bacteria and food particles that may be lurking in your mouth. Try to stay away from acidic or sugary dips and indulge in your vegetables naturally as they are on the tray.