If you’re someone who battles sensitive teeth (it’s been said that half the population does!), then you know the discomfort and pain that often comes when you’re eating or drinking. According to Frank Cattanese, DMD at Encore Dental of Lacey in Forked River, NJ, tooth sensitivity could be periodic or it can be present all the time, and it is something that patients can have their whole lives or can develop later on.
“The two main causes of tooth sensitivity are thinness of the tooth’s enamel and recession of the gums with root exposure,” Cattanese says. These conditions can, unfortunately, cause people to be sensitive to different extreme temperatures while eating and drinking, among other things.
That said, the dentist elaborated on how to best prevent irritating sensitive teeth even more in everyday life, and to no surprise, it starts with the diet.
“The best way to deal with tooth sensitivity is to use sensitivity toothpaste and to avoid contact with the foods and drinks that cause these issues,” Cattanese says, while adding that teeth whitening should also be avoided if you experience sensitivity.
The American Dental Association (ADA) additionally recommends practicing good dental hygiene, which includes brushing your teeth gently twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
No matter the reason why you have tooth sensitivity, one thing is for sure: it’s not fun and it can be irritating. To help those with sensitive teeth feel better, Cattanese provided Eat This, Not That! with a handy list of foods and drinks to avoid in an effort to prevent any pain or tingling.
Here are 12 foods and drinks to avoid if you have sensitive teeth.
According to Cattanese, avoiding this common citrus fruit is a good idea if you have sensitive teeth because “all acidic foods can wear away at your enamel.” That said, to avoid sensitivity, you’re better off staying away from an acidic diet in general.
Lemons and Limes
Since he emphasized that citric acids are a big no-no for sensitive teeth because they can lead to discomfort, passing on these sour yellow and green fruits is recommended, too.
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This citric fruit, common at breakfast time, could be even worse for sensitive teeth if you add sugar on top of extra flavor. “Citric acid will breakdown anyone’s teeth, but it will do worse to someone with thinner enamel,” Cattanese says.
Both hot and cold coffee may trigger teeth sensitivity since extreme temperatures are irritating, so it’s best to skip the popular caffeinated drink, especially the iced variety. “The most complaints I get from people with sensitive teeth are about cold liquids,” Cattanese said.
Since we know temperature is a huge trigger when it comes to sensitive teeth, as are sweet, sugary foods, ice cream has also landed itself on the no-no list. “Most of the time the issue is temperature… extreme temperatures in hot and cold things can affect sensitive teeth,” Cattanese says.
We now know that extreme temperatures can cause teeth sensitivity, so try not to go with some piping hot soup if you don’t want to feel any pain or discomfort. Opt for room temperature food instead.
Tomatoes are another food that is high in acidity, so Cattanese suggests taking a pass on whole tomatoes and tomato sauce to avoid triggering teeth sensitivity or even pesky heartburn.
Soda is both sugary and acidic, so it’s essentially a double whammy when it comes to irritating sensitive teeth. “Soda is a big one to avoid,” he says. “The main thing is the high concentration of the sugar.
Candies (Especially Sour)
Cattanese says that sweet foods can negatively affect those with sensitive teeth, and sour candies like Sour Patch Kids, for example, are one treat that is especially worth steering clear of. “Not only do they have a lot of sugar, but they’re very acidic, which is why they’re sour,” he says. “Crunchier foods can also sometimes cause an issue in some patients.”
Cattanese explains that “some people are sensitive to hot, and some people are sensitive to cold,” so tea could be fine for you, or it could not be. If you’re sensitive to hot, choose iced tea, and if you’re sensitive to cold, choose hot tea. It varies from person to person, so you’ll have to try these out for yourself to see which affects your teeth the most. If you’re sensitive to both, just avoid this drink completely.
Orange juice contains citric acid, sugar, and it is served very cold, so it’s best to skip it, unless you drink it with straw. “People with sensitive teeth can have really cold stuff, but typically the best way to drink it is with a straw so you’re keeping the cold off the teeth and just getting it in the back of the mouth,” Cattanese says.
Energy drinks like Monster or Red Bull are known to wear at your teeth’s enamel over time, and as we’ve learned, thinning of enamel is what causes sensitive teeth. Instead, maybe opt for water at room temperature.