When it comes to food, we all have our guilty pleasures. But if you care about your teeth, there are some foods that tend to kill more quickly than others. Not a quick, violent, murder, but a slow, painful death. The gradual erosion of dentin, the silent progression of dental caries, and sometimes, the sudden chipping and breaking of teeth, that can be the cause of needless pain and expense.
Nature gives us the perfect fruit – the apple. It is crispy, juicy, vitamin filled and sweet. You can bake it, sauce it, and cut it into little shapes for kids. So naturally, someone gets the bright idea to coat it in a hard shell of bright red coloured sugar. Kind of nasty, don’t you think (anyone remember the stories about red dye #4)? Don’t be fooled. There may be an apple buried in there, but this is a pure sugar fest –a hard, crunchy version of sugar that may very well crack a tooth when you first bite into it. If you must indulge, try to pick out the hard bits from between your teeth afterwards, and rinse your mouth with water, so the remnants don’t rest there, eating away at your back teeth while you’ve moved on to a corn dog.
OK, for the sugar addicted among you, we understand that these types of treats can be pretty delectable. And yes, there is this version that has a less frightening, natural brown colour. However, even minus the red dye, the caramel apple has its own brand of danger related to the chewiness of the shell. Caramel has an uncanny ability to pull out loose fillings. And once they are out, they are not going back in without the help of one of us.
Salt water taffy
Let’s just call this the symbol for any sticky, chewy candy. These types of treats can be tasty, indeed, but you must remember that the combination of sugary stickiness and chewiness is a true hazard to the surface of your teeth. This candy wants in. It is literally grabbing for the soul of your teeth, and not letting go. And if you already have filled cavities, well, those fillings are definitely vulnerable spots. You’ll just have to weigh the benefits against the risks. And don’t forget to remove the remaining bits out of your teeth afterwards by rinsing and/or brushing.
Let’s be very clear here. Aside from blueberries, (which aren’t really blue, per se), you can pretty much rule out any food or drink that is “blue” as being not good for you in general, and certainly not good for your teeth. These foods do not occur in nature. Are you familiar with the blue tongue you end up with after sucking on one of those blue ice blocks? Beware of blue food. It will stain your teeth and your mouth, and we’re pretty sure it doesn’t have any nutritional value.
Peanut butter and jelly
Now don’t get excited. We’re not going to tell you that peanut butter and jelly is on the killer food list. However, you do need to be careful about how and when you eat these deceptively dangerous sandwiches. Many parents think that because it is a nut butter, it is a healthy lunch or a bed time snack to serve to their children. And in some senses, it is. However, because of its sticky quality, and the fact that it is often paired with sweetened jellies and jams (pure fruit spread is a slightly better alternative), it can get stuck in teeth and have the same cavity producing effects of the sugary treats described above.
In general, when eating sticky, sweet foods, it is best to rinse your mouth and brush afterwards, particularly at bed time. Any food left sitting on teeth will eventually begin the process of creating cavities.