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Cookout Foods That Harm Teeth

Jul 03, 2014

By Dean George

This weekend hot dogs and hamburgers will be common grilling choices as we celebrate the Fourth of July weekend, along with brats, steaks, barbecue ribs and corn on the cob.


But what’s a Fourth of July outing without a complement of tantalizing side dishes and lemonade? Popular side dish choices often include dill pickles, tomatoes, salad with a variety of salad dressings, fresh raspberries and strawberries, and maybe desserts made with citrus fruits like oranges and pineapple. Health-conscious folks may also bring an assortment of dried fruits and raisins.

And don’t forget the condiments! Soy sauce is often used to flavor grilled meat, and not including ketchup at a cookout is downright un-American! But here’s the: “kick in the teeth:”  many of the foods listed above are high in acid, and as we’ve previously written in Dental Wire and Agent Straight-Talk, foods high in acid are hard on our pearly whites.

The good news is steak and strawberries actually help whiten teeth.  Steak contains phosphorous that is good for teeth and bones, and the chewing motion benefits teeth and gums. Strawberries contain a natural astringent that helps scrub away tooth stains, and unlike most berries, strawberries don’t stain teeth.

Unfortunately many popular cookout foods should be on our BOLO list (Be On the Look Out). For example, dill pickles are made mostly from vinegar which is very high in acid. And while salads and fresh tomatoes are good for your general health, tomatoes also include a lot of acid as do all types of salad dressings.

Why is ketchup on the list? Ketchup is made from tomatoes and distilled vinegar. Double oh-oh. Most people know that soy sauce is very high in sodium, but it is also highly acidic due to its fermentation process and because it’s made from soy beans. During fermentation enzymes denature the soybean protein into amino acids like glutamic acid and aspartic acid.

Oral health experts have long cautioned that citrus fruits like lemons and oranges eat away at tooth enamel, but raspberries, pineapple, raisins and dried fruit also contain high amounts of acid that can harm teeth.

Should you consider declaring your independence this weekend and skip these otherwise healthy foods because of the possible danger to your teeth? “Of course not,” says Dr. Debra Glassman, a well known dentist in New York City. “Don’t give up healthy food in your diet, particularly fruit, but do take a fresh look at how you eat it.”

Dr. Glassman suggests the following preventative measures to lessen the harmful impact of acid erosion on teeth:

  • Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after eating or drinking as this can simply spread the harmful acid around your mouth
  • Drink water and rinse as soon as possible after meals to dilute the acidic environment in your mouth and around your teeth
  • Don’t swish, swirl or hold acidic foods in your mouth too long
  • Consider drinking water rather than lemonade or carbonated drinks, but if you do drink the latter use a straw
  • Use a tooth-enamel strengthening toothpaste to help counter the harmful effects foods high in acid can do

Happy Fourth of July everyone! And remember that Dental Insurance Store holds these truths to be self-evident: all of us are entitled to the liberty of choosing a dental plan that is best for our personal situation. To see plans available in your area, click here.

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Copyright 2014, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC

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