Soft drinks, ice cream, baked goods, and hamburgers—all delicious, but all highly acidic. And unfortunately, those acids can discolor your teeth. Why? We asked the experts! Read on to learn more.
Deepak Shukla is the CEO and co-founder of Plant Sumo - a plant-based meal prep service. When he’s not in the kitchen thinking up delicious and fresh vegan meals, you can find him running marathons and completing Ironmen.
Acidic foods, such as meat, soft drinks, and even dairy can damage your teeth by weakening and softening enamel.
Ultimately, this causes tooth erosion whereby the inner layer of your teeth, called dentin, and your gum line become exposed. Once exposed, they’re even more susceptible to bacteria that can lead to further infection and cavities.
This process is called demineralization, whereby bacteria in our mouths called Streptococcus mutans metabolize the sucrose (or sugars) in our food into lactic acid. It’s this lactic acid that causes tooth erosion and discoloration.
A healthy mouth will have a near-neutral pH level, so acidic foods, or foods that are high in sucrose - like processed and fast foods, are going to bring that pH level down.
That’s why it’s important to eat not only calcium-rich foods like beans and legumes to strengthen enamel but to balance your diet with alkaline-rich foods. Foods like root vegetables and leafy greens are not only nutritious but high-alkaline.
On top of that, things like apples and celery are fibrous and work well as tooth cleaners. Strawberries even contain a good acid, called malic acid which acts as a tooth-whitening enzyme. Plus, these foods increase saliva production to clean teeth and break up particles that might stain teeth.
Overall, acidic foods and foods that are high in sucrose erode your enamel, which invites bacteria, infection, and discoloration. That’s why you should consider avoiding acidic foods if you want white teeth or at least try to balance your diet with high-alkaline plant-based additions.
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