Five Healthy Foods That Can Damage Your Dentition

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 11.14.53 AMAlthough everyone knows that drinking soda (including diet soda) and eating sweets can damage teeth, many of our New York City cosmetic dental patients are surprised when, after noticing some dental erosion, we ask about their “healthy” habits, such as juicing. Here are five “healthy” foods that may be challenging your beautiful smile, and some tips to maintain your pearly whites!

Gummy Vitamins
Prior to the presence of gummy vitamins, children often balked at the chalky texture of chewable vitamin tablets. Seeking a more palatable option for kids, vitamin manufacturers created little chewable vitamins similar to gummy bear candies. Needless to say, these took off like a rocket! Figuring that we might enjoy them as well, manufacturers now offer a plethora of gummy vitamins for adults. Sounds great, right? Not so fast. Unfortunately, the sugars in these gummy vitamins stick to your teeth just like their candy counterparts. Our advice: Rinse immediately after eating a gummy vitamin and brush as soon as possible to remove the sticky, sugary residue or go back to taking vitamins in pill form.

BBQ & Pasta Sauces
Love your ribs, burgers and fries dipped in BBQ sauce? Addicted to good Italian food? Although yummy, BBQ and pasta sauces not only coat your food, it coats your teeth as well, and both are full of sugar and tomatoes. The sugar can join the bacteria on your teeth to create cavities, and the tomato color can stain your teeth. Our advice: Rinse thoroughly immediately after eating anything with red sauce and brush as soon as you can.

Juicing: Homemade or Purchased
Juicing has been a to-go, power-packed option for busy New Yorkers for over a decade. Whether you make it at home or buy it at the store, juices and smoothies contain lots of acid and sugar—sometimes more than a comparably sized soda. Drinking these juices literally bathes your teeth in that acid and sugar, promoting cavities and dental enamel erosion. Our advice: Drink your juice with a straw to avoid tooth surfaces and wait 45-60 minutes to brush. Brushing too soon actually makes your teeth more susceptible to the acids and sugars!

Dried Fruit
As a quick snack that doesn’t require refrigeration (read that: can hang out in your backpack or computer bag for ages), dried fruits contain concentrated amounts of valuable nutrients, such as Vitamin E, iron, potassium, calcium, and beta carotene. Unfortunately, dried fruits also contain non-cellulose fiber, which traps the sugar from the dried fruit on (and between) your teeth just like gummy candies. Our advice: Eliminate the sugar by brushing and flossing as soon as possible after eating dried fruit.

White Wine
OK, you know about red wine’s propensity to stain your teeth, so you’re feeling a bit jittery about the news regarding white wine, right? Truth is, although white wine won’t stain your teeth, it does contain acids that will eat away at your teeth’s enamel, which then enables stains from other foods to leave their mark. Our advice: Have cheese with your wine to buffer the wine’s acid. Not into cheese? Just rinse thoroughly after drinking white wine to neutralize some of the acidity.

Here at iSmile, we’re all about your dental health. If we haven’t seen you in the past 6 months, call us today at 212-267-1884 to schedule an appointment. Your teeth will be glad to see us!

To your health & beauty,
Jeffrey Shapiro, DDS, PC and Glenn Chiarello, DDS
NYC Cosmetic Dentists


Hidden Sugars and Your Teeth

We’ve been told since childhood that sugar causes cavities. Unfortunately, there are nearly 60 compounds used in foods, beverages, and chewing gums that aren’t clearly identified as “sugar.” These compounds have all the drawbacks of sugar but, because of their names, you may consume them in far greater quantities that you think, simply because the name of that sugary ingredient isn’t clearly defined in your mind as a sugar substance.

How Sugar Damages Teeth

We’ve all heard the saying, “sugar rots your teeth.” Truth be told, it’s not the sugar itself that causesScreen Shot 2015-06-02 at 10.41.09 AM cavities. Cavities form when oral bacteria digest the carbohydrate fragments left on teeth after you eat or drink. While these fragments may be from candy, cookies or other sweet treats, they are also left by vegetables, fruits and whole grains, which are healthy foods. Unfortunately, the bacteria don’t know the difference! They interact with these carbohydrate fragments to create an acid. The acid combines with your saliva to create plaque. It’s the plaque that leads to tooth decay. Every time you eat or drink carbohydrates, plaque begins to form. What stops plaque build-up is frequent brushing and flossing. If not removed, the plaque begins to erode the hard outer enamel of the tooth, creating tiny holes. This is the first sign of a cavity.

Over time, those tiny holes will eat through the other layers of your teeth, including the dentin (the soft layer of tooth beneath the enamel), all the way to the pulp, which is the location of your teeth’s nerves and blood vessels. Left untreated, damage can extend into the bone supporting the tooth, causing abscesses, severe discomfort, and sensitivity that leads to tooth loss.

The above details may lead you to wonder if you might as well eat that donut instead of an apple, since both contain carbohydrates, but that would be inaccurate. Fruits and vegetables are more easily washed away with your saliva than are manufactured sweets such as candies or breath mints, for example, which become stuck in the tiny grooves of the teeth

Furthermore, the way you consume carbohydrates also affects the risk for dental damage. Nursing a can of soda for several hours causes more damage to teeth than drinking it immediately, as the teeth are washed over and over with the acidic soda. It takes about 30 minutes after eating or drinking carbohydrates for acid to begin forming. Therefore, every time you take a sip or eat a chip, you’re “resetting the clock” on bacteria formation.

It Pays To Be Aware

Sugars come in many forms. If you want to become a more aware consumer, take a look at this list of 56 compounds that are, essentially, sugar. Watch for them when making choices between products at the market and do your best to purchase items without these ingredients.

  • Agave nectar
  • Barbados sugar
  • Barley malt
  • Beet sugar
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Buttered syrup
  • Cane juice crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Caramel
  • Carob syrup
  • Castor sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Date sugar
  • Demerara sugar
  • Dextran
  • Dextrose
  • Diastatic malt
  • Diatase
  • Ethyl maltol
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Florida crystals
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Galactose
  • lucose
  • Glucose solids
  • Golden sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • Grape sugar
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Icing sugar
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado sugar
  • Organic raw sugar
  • Panocha
  • Raw sugar
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Rice syrup
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Yellow sugar

To your dental health & beauty,
Jeffrey Shapiro, DDS, PC and Glenn Chiarello, DDS
NYC Cosmetic Dentists


Chlorine and Your Dental Enamel

We have absolutely no doubt that most of our NYC cosmetic dental patients have no idea that chlorine, as in chlorinated pool water, can damage the enamel on their teeth. We know this because, when we’ve mentioned it to our patients, they’re completely amazed by the possibility that their wonderful, relaxing swimming pool could be anything but wonderful and relaxing!

How Chlorinated Swimming Pool Water Can Damage Your Teeth
A 2011 paper written by colleagues at NYU College of Dentistry  studies show that improperly maintained swimming pools are a primary culprit in damage to users’ teeth. “What’s that you say?” Yes, that’s right: improperly maintained. It seems that some pool owners decide to maintain their own pools rather than pay a pool company to do the work. That’s all fine and well unless chlorine and pH levels aren’t kept at optimum levels.

According to Dr. Leila Jahangiri, a clinical associate professor and the Chair of NYUCD’s Department of Prosthodontics, “Improperly maintained pool chlorination in swimming pools can cause rapid and excessive erosion of dental enamel. It is a difficult balance to maintain home pools properly.” Jahangiri contends, “Proper pool chlorine and pH levels need to be monitored and maintained on a weekly basis.

Dr. Jahangiri and her NYUCD colleagues Steven Pigliacelli and Dr. Ross Kerr authored a paper based on a 53-year-old male Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 8.13.21 PMpatient who complained of extremely sensitive teeth that had dark stains and enamel loss that had happened very quickly–literally over a 5-month period of time. It started at the same time the patient began swimming 90 minutes daily in his backyard swimming pool. After ruling out any other reason for the man’s rapid dental decline, and testing his pool’s pH levels, improper chlorine levels were found to be at fault.

“If the chemical levels are not properly maintained, pool water contact with teeth can cause serious enamel erosion,” Jahangiri said. Case studies show that the effect occurs when the pH of the water ranges between 2.7 and 7.

When one considers the number of owner-maintained chlorinated pools in the NYC area, the potential for both children and adults people to experience enamel erosion and staining is huge. Please, if you have a pool and you regularly enjoy it, think about having that pool pH checked on a regular basis. You can take a sample into your local pool supply store where they will test the water without charge. Better yet, pay a pool company. It may cost a few thousand dollars every summer to maintain your pool with a professional, but once you have irreversible damage to your dental enamel, it’s, well, irreversible! 

To your health and beauty,
Jeffrey Shapiro, DDS, PC and Glenn Chiarello, DDS
NYC Cosmetic Dentists