Fact: Nobody looks forward to her biannual rendezvous at the dentist’s. But the discomfort from the poking and scraping of routine cleanings is nothing compared to the pain (not to mention the expense) of more intensive procedures, like fillings and root canals. So wouldn’t it be nice to seriously lower your chances of needing dental work with some strategic eating?
“There are plenty of foods that people should be avoiding if they want to keep their teeth in good shape,” says Guillaume Lepine, DDS, a Massachusetts-based dentist. We polled some of the top oral hygiene experts in the country to find out what’s not in their kitchen—and how they prevent food-related tooth damage whenever naughty nibbles do manage to make it past their lips.
Your favorite sugary soda is a total smile saboteur. “Most contain an acid that can weaken tooth enamel—even diet soda,” explains John F. Buzzatto, DMD, MDS, president of the American Association of Orthodontists. If you must indulge, drink through a straw to limit soda’s contact with your teeth. (Though you may want to skip the soda altogether—and not just for your teeth.
Already struggling with weak teeth? Skip crunchy fruits and veggies, which can further crack or damage fragile chompers. Apples and carrots are actually two of the biggest culprits of cracked teeth, Dr. Buzzatto notes. But don’t skip these healthy treats altogether: “Cut them into bite-size pieces before you enjoy them,” he recommends.