But here’s an unwelcome surprise: Studies show that certain foods can actually do more damage to your teeth than tobacco! Here are five that you may be consuming to slim down, but they might not be something to smile about.
(An important note: We’re not saying you should give up the foods that are healthy below! But you might want to consult your dentist if you consume them frequently and are worried about discoloration or enamel erosion.)
Britons’ (perhaps unfair) bad reputation when it comes to teeth might have something to do with the popularity of tea in the British diet. A study in The European Journal of Dentistry looked for the differences in staining between red wine, cola, tea and coffee. Surprisingly, the study found no significant difference in teeth exposed to coffee (Starbucks lovers, you can exhale now) but found tea to be a main offender when it comes to discoloration.
There’s no denying that tea has amazing health benefits: Fat-burning properties, antioxidant protection against DNA damage, and the reduced risk of several diseases. But it can take a toll on your teeth. A study published in The Journal of Dentistry compared groups of teeth exposed to either conventional black tea, herbal tea or water. Those exposed to the teas suffered a loss of tooth enamel. Both black and herbal varieties caused erosion, but surface loss was much greater on teeth exposed to herbal tea.
Again, there’s no need to give up tea and its health-boosting qualities; just talk to your dentist if you have a concern. In the meantime, why not grab a straw and make yourself one of the 5 Best Iced Tea Smoothies for Weight Loss.
The most commonly cited cause of tooth erosion is dietary acid, and citrus fruits are the top culprit: They’re as low on the pH scale as it gets for foods. A study printed in the journal General Dentistry examined the effect of citrus-fruit juice on oral health over a 20-week period. Lemon juice showed the most severe damage to frontal enamel, followed by grapefruit juice, orange juice and lastly (of course), water.
You might like to slice lemons and other citrus fruits into water and sip it all day, but that’s actually the worst way to enjoy it when it comes to your teeth. One study showed that drinking slowly throughout the day damages teeth more than downing it in one sitting. If you’re a fan of spa water, try using a straw to limit acidic contact and to keep your pearly whites strong.
Dried fruit is a double dental disaster, thanks to its sugar content and stickiness. Not to mention how we usually eat it: Snacking on dried fruit is more damaging than incorporating it into a meal. When you’re eating a meal, saliva production increases. That helps clean your teeth of lingering food particles and protects against acid. So try tossing dried cranberries into your salad, or add dried apricot to quinoa for a punch of flavor. And a good rule — both for your teeth and your waist — is to always opt for fresh fruit. Here are our picks for The 5 Best Fruits for Fat Loss!
Many people opt for diet soda as a “healthier” alternative to satisfy sweet tooth cravings. That’s a bad idea for a bunch of reasons — check out The 8 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Give Up Diet Soda.
Another incentive to quit it: When it comes to acid, diet soda takes the win. A study published in the journal Caries Research split participants into six groups. All groups drank a diet soda with similar acidity to lemon. Each group then brushed their teeth at different times. Group A brushed immediately after being exposed to the soda, while the rest of the groups followed at different time increments. After 21 days, researchers found that those who brushed their teeth less than 20 minutes after downing the acidic drink had a significantly higher loss of dentin (the main, white part of your tooth visible through the layer of translucent enamel). If you can’t quit soda completely, at least hold off brushing for 30 minutes after drinking to avoid scrubbing away the softened enamel.
DRINK THIS INSTEAD: Slim down and protect your teeth with the Best-Ever Weight Loss Smoothie, compliments of Zero Belly Diet: