5 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Teeth
Brace yourself: Sugar Isn’t the only dental villain.
You use your teeth to talk, chew, and smile. But here are some other "teeth
facts" you probably didn’t know about your pearly whites.
No. 1: Sour can be just as bad as sweet.
Sugar isn’t the only dental villain that undermines healthy teeth. Acidic,
low-pH foods -- sour candy, soft drinks, fruit juices -- soften teeth. The
result: enamel erosion and diminished tooth size. “Citric acid is the worst
acid for your teeth,” says Martha Keels, DDS, chief of pediatric dentistry at
Duke’s Children’s Hospital. “We’re seeing acid erosion every day.”
Dentists’ worst nightmare: ultra-sour, ultra-sticky, ultra-sugary kids’
candies such as Warheads and Toxic Waste. Even sour gummy vitamins can be
“These sour candies, when tested, have a really low pH, nearing battery
acid,” says Robyn Loewen, DDS, a fellow in the American Academy of Pediatric
Dentistry and a diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. “I
liken it to an ice cube that’s been left on the counter. It melts the
To make matters worse, children’s tooth enamel isn’t mature until a decade
after their teeth erupt, Loewen says. Because it’s softer, “it’s more
susceptible to the acid.”
Adults aren’t off the hook: Low pH fare includes sour mango Altoids and even
sugar-free soft drinks.
If you’re going to consume highly acidic foods, do it during mealtime, Keels
says. You’ll minimize the effects by consuming them along with other foods.
Better yet, chew xylitol-containing gum, such as Ice Breakers Ice Cubes,
Trident, or Orbit, Keels says. Xylitol fakes out bacteria and may even help
Gums containing Recaldent, such as Trident, will help teeth remineralize and
decay. Finally, brushing periodically with baking soda has been shown to
neutralize acids in the mouth, which reduces the amount of acid-loving bacteria
that cause cavities.
No. 2: Enamel is the hardest substance in the body, but it can break easily.
Ice, popcorn, and tongue and lip
piercings can chip teeth.
And unlike skin, teeth can’t
re-grow. “We’re not like beavers,” says American Dental Association spokesman
Richard Price, DMD.