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5 Surprising Foods That Sabotage Your Mouth

#1: Ice Cream

This frozen treat harms gums, especially those that are already vulnerable. In general, the added sugars in most sweets—from cookies to sodas—are bad news for your gums, because the sugars bind to gums, triggering the release of eroding acids. What’s more, ice cream’s icy temperature can irritate gums where they have already started wearing away, exposing roots to hot and cold sensations. This doesn’t mean cutting sweets out of your diet. Try limiting yourself, and when you eat ice cream, try to brush away the sugars afterward. Plus, another solution is to rinse twice daily with mouthwash to neutralize the acidity of your diet.

#2: Tomatoes

Just as sugary diets do not promote healthy, firm gums, highly acidic diets are also gum offenders. And while tomatoes are healthy in many regards and rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to lower stroke risk, the juicy fruit is also highly acidic. Eating such foods is like bathing your teeth in acid that wears away gums and promotes decay. When enjoying this juicy fruit, try to pair with other acid-neutralizing foods like mozzarella, lean beef or chicken, nuts, lentils or tuna.

#3: Oranges

Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes are acidic and high in natural fruit sugar, which can damage and erode teeth and cause gum problems. There are other, non-acidic ways of getting vitamin C, such as taking supplements or eating veggies high in vitamin C but low in acid (such as broccoli, asparagus and peas) and low-acid fruits like cantaloupe, honeydew melon and kiwi (which are higher in vitamin C than oranges).

#4: Bread

White bread, along with other foods that are full of starches made from white flour, are not friends to your gums. While it may surprise you, bread, crackers and chips can be just as damaging to healthy gums as candy. These starches are simple carbohydrates that hang around the mouth and dissolve into the type of simple sugar that mouth germs thrive on, the kind that leads to acid-producing tooth decay.

#5: Sports Drinks

In addition to being high in sugar, sports drinks can also erode gums and promote tooth decay, because they are also high in acid. A 2012 study found gums and teeth are attacked by the acid in sports drinks, after five consecutive days of exposure to them. If you or your child is drinking sports drinks after exercise sessions, either look at labels to find the brands lowest in added sugars or try switching to water.