We know that foods can impact the health of your mouth. While some affect your mouth pretty much as expected, others might surprise you. Let’s look at the foods that can impact dental health and what you should do if you have gum pain after eating.
Foods That Can Harm Your Oral Health
When it comes to foods that are bad for your oral health, there are obvious high-sugar offenders, and then there are foods and drinks you thought were harmless. If you find yourself thinking, “My gums hurt when I eat,” one of these could be the culprit.
The following foods and beverages make you more prone to gum disease and cavities, whether you knew it or not.
- Candy: Candy is likely the first food you think of when you think of foods that are bad for your teeth, and you’re not wrong. Candy is high in sugar and usually sticky. Hanging on to your teeth, candy allows bacteria to flourish there and releases acids that can lead to tooth decay. If you’re going to eat candy, opt for something that won’t spend a long time in your mouth or on your teeth, and rinse your mouth with water afterward if you can’t brush your teeth immediately after.
- Dried fruit: Although it’s certainly much healthier than candy, the stickiness and higher sugar content of dry fruit can also cause tooth decay and gum disease. Limit the amount of dried fruit you eat and always follow with water. Raisins are particularly high in sugar.
- Soda: Soda is a heavy-hitter when it comes to negative impact on oral health. Soda is high in both sugar and acid, which is a terrible combination for your teeth. The acid in soda breaks down your tooth enamel, making it easier for the bacteria that feed on sugar to settle in. Each sip bathes your mouth in acid and sugar, making tooth decay much more likely. Caffeinated soda is a triple whammy, as caffeine also causes dry mouth. Since your saliva helps protect your teeth and gums, you’re even more prone to gum disease and decay.
- Sports drinks: As far as your mouth is concerned, sports drinks are pretty similar to soda. They have a high sugar and acid content, so the effect on your teeth and gums is much the same as soda. If you drink them, follow up with water.
- Starchy Carbs: Starchy carbs like crackers, white bread, pasta, cookies, and other snack foods tend to stick to your teeth. They sneak into the spaces between your teeth and your gums, where they quickly convert to sugar. This gives bacteria the opportunity to grow and release their harmful acid, resulting in plaque and decay.
- Popcorn: Popcorn seems harmless until you think about all those pesky husks that invariably get stuck along your gum line. If a husk gets stuck under your gums or in your teeth, it can cause a gum abscess. If you get a piece of popcorn stuck, use your toothbrush and floss to get it out as soon as possible. If you can’t, or if you notice that you have sore gums after eating, contact your dentist.
- Acidic fruits and juices: Juice is high in sugar and often high in acid, which again creates that harmful acidic sugar bath for your teeth. Acidic fruits do the same, although they usually pose a lower risk since they’re often eaten with meals. If you plan to drink juice, aim for less acidic options like apple or carrot. However, opting for whole fruits and veggies is better for your overall health and your teeth.
- Alcohol and caffeinated beverages: Both alcohol and caffeine dry out your mouth, keeping your saliva from protecting your teeth and gums. They also both tend to be acidic and often sugary, which creates that terrible trifecta for your mouth. Limit your consumption of these beverages and drink water with them.
Generally speaking, a good rule of thumb is to avoid foods with empty calories or super high sugar or acid content. If a food or beverage falls into any of those categories, it’s best to consume it sparingly and with plenty of water afterward.
My Gums Hurt When I Eat
If you realize that you have gum pain after eating or you have sore gums after eating, start by brushing and flossing your teeth. If you have food stuck between your teeth or in your gums, it can cause pain or soreness. You may also experience gum and dental pain if you have a sinus infection or if you have a cut, abrasion, or canker sore on your gums. However, if brushing and flossing don’t resolve the problem and you don’t see any obvious sore spots, it’s time to see your dentist.
While there can be several different reasons for gum pain after eating, your dentist should take a look at your gums and your mouth to determine the source of the pain. If you haven’t been consistent with your oral health routine, you may have gingivitis, tooth decay, or an abscess. It’s important to address the health of your gums and your teeth as soon as you notice there’s a problem so that your dentist can help resolve it.
Your Oral Health Is Connected To Your Overall Health
If you or a family member experience any ongoing oral discomfort, including sore gums after eating, don’t hesitate to make an appointment to see your dentist. Your oral health and your overall health are closely connected, and when your oral health suffers, it can affect the health of your entire body. An infection in your gums could eventually spread, impacting your heart health and more.
Ultimately, protecting the health of your teeth and gums is about more than just your oral health. It’s an essential part of protecting your entire body. To learn more about the mouth-body connection, reserve your copy of If Your Mouth Could Talk today by renowned dental expert, dentist, and dad Dr. Kami Hoss. You’ll learn more about how keeping your mouth healthy will benefit your entire life.