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5 Surprising Things That Can Cause Cavities

You already know to be careful with dessert. But did you know some of your other habits can affect your teeth?


1. Taking certain medications

One common side effect of some medications is dry mouth, which can cause issues with your oral health, according to the American Dental Association. Saliva is important because it stops food from collecting around your teeth and helps neutralize acid produced by plaque. Dry mouth can also increase your risk for tooth decay. Talk to your dentist any time you’ll be starting a new medication and ask if she can recommend preventative care.

2. A lack of nutrients

When your diet is absent of certain nutrients, it can be more difficult for tissues in your mouth to resist infection, which can in turn contribute to gum disease, according to the American Dental Association. In fact, researchers believe that gum disease may progress faster and be more severe in people with poor nutrition. Stick to a balanced diet by using the government’s recommended daily intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy to help get the nutrients you need.

3. Lots of snacking

Once again, saliva—or not enough of it—is the issue when it comes to snacking. In general, foods that are eaten as part of a larger meal cause less harm to teeth than snacking throughout the day, since more saliva is released during an actual meal, according to the American Dental Association. That saliva is necessary to help wash food particles from the mouth and reduce the effects of harmful acids that can lead to cavities.

4. Too much citrus

A squeeze of lemon or lime might freshen up your beverage, but they also expose your teeth to unnecessary acids that can erode enamel and make your teeth more susceptible to decay over time. Follow recommendations from the American Dental Association and be sure to drink plenty of plain water.

5. Doting on dried fruit

In theory, it might seem like you’re making the smart choice by picking dried fruit as your snack of choice, but it’s not the best when it comes to dental health. Many dried fruit options are sticky, and that stickiness can damage your teeth because food particles from sticky objects tend to stay on your teeth longer than others, according to the America Dental Association. You don’t have to give up dried fruit completely—just take care to rinse your mouth and brush your teeth after eating it so it doesn’t (literally) stick around.

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