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Smile-Friendly vs. Smile-Challenging Foods


When you were growing up as a child, you surely heard statements from concerned friends and family: “Beware of eating candy, it can rot your teeth!” Were these warnings based on truth or were they an old wives’ tale? Candy – can definitely be “smile-challenging,” especially the sticky, hard stuff.

“While these hard candies seem harmless, eat too many and the constant exposure to sugar can be harmful to your teeth. Hard candies also put your teeth at risk because in addition to being full of sugar, they can also trigger a dental emergency such as a broken or chipped tooth,” says the American Dental Association. So, yes, these warnings were based on fact.

As a general rule, food can either help or hurt your teeth; it can be “smile-friendly” or it can be “smile-challenging.” By smile-challenging, we’re referring to acidic foods that lower the pH level inside your mouth. When the mouth is too acidic, it places the teeth at risk. On the other hand, alkaline foods, which are smile-friendly, raise the pH level in the mouth, which protects the teeth from decay.

Some of the most smile-friendly foods and beverages include:

  • Apples
  • Cheese
  • Cucumbers
  • Stevia
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Almonds
  • Yogurt
  • Leafy greens
  • Herbal tea
  • Plain water
  • Sweet potatoes

Some of the most smile-challenging foods and beverages include:

  • Ice
  • Alcohol
  • Sports drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Soft drinks, including diet
  • Hard candy
  • Potato chips
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Sticky foods, such as dried fruit and caramel

While you reduce sugary foods and sticky foods from your diet, pay close attention to what you are drinking. Soft drinks, sports drinks, and coffee and tea filled with added sugar can wreak havoc on your teeth. Instead of drinking sugary drinks, focus on drinking 8 or more 12 ounce glasses of water each day.

As for diet, focus on eating sugar-free dairy products, cheese, and loads of fibrous vegetables. After you eat, don’t forget to rinse your mouth out with water, brush and floss. Bi-annual exams and cleanings are essential for oral hygiene and health, but your diet in between dental visits does make a BIG difference.

To schedule an exam with Mark Weitzman D.D.S., contact us today at (805) 295-8896!

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