If you often get a craving for spicy food, you may have worried that fiery feeling could affect your teeth negatively. Can spicy foods affect your teeth? Let’s talk about how spicy foods impact your teeth and what things you should be aware of next time you order a basket of hot wings for game night.
When Spice is Not Nice
Spicy foods can affect your teeth if you are prone to sensitivity. If you experience dental discomfort in reaction to hot or cold temperatures or very sweet foods, it’s likely that your teeth may react in similar ways to spicy foods. The heat and acidity of the spice can irritate already tender areas, such as where your gums may be inflamed or receding or where your tooth enamel may have early stages of decay.
Can spicy food affect your teeth long term, though? The good news is, spicy food doesn’t typically cause damage to your teeth, only discomfort, so the discomfort should be temporary.
Something that can damage your teeth, however, is consuming high amounts of sugar. Spicy foods can actually contain high amounts of hidden sugar to create their complex flavor combinations and because of the focus on the overwhelming intensity of the spice, many people aren’t aware of the excessive sugar content. Always check labels on sauces before consuming and try to opt for the ones with less sugar.
Sugar can damage your teeth because it feeds the bacteria that naturally occurs in your mouth, which can make the environment of your mouth acidic and more prone to causing tooth decay. Foods that are sticky or leave a residue, like barbecue sauce, can be especially problematic because of the tendency for the sugar to remain attached to your teeth for longer.
Risk of Staining
Many spicy foods may also contain ingredients that can cause staining, although they may not directly damage your teeth. For example, curry, dark barbecue sauces and hot sauces can all have a negative long term impact on the brightness of your smile. Thankfully, there are things you can do to prevent discoloration and staining.
How to Keep Enjoying Spicy Foods
When discovering the answers to the question “Can spicy foods affect your teeth?” you may feel discouraged from enjoying your favorite foods, but take heart! Like they say, enjoy everything in moderation!
Also, practicing good oral hygiene can go a long way towards enabling you to continue to enjoy your staple game night hot sauce and wings. Simply practicing good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth after you enjoy spicy foods and keeping your teeth and gums healthy with consistent daily care can help protect your teeth from decay and staining and reduce the risk of sensitivity from stealing the fun out of your favorite spicy treats.
As always, if you have further questions about spicy food and your teeth, ask your dentist, your local expert in how to keep your teeth healthy and bright without losing out on the spice in life.
Call our Traverse City Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.