Have a craving for spice you just can’t shake? Even though your mouth might feel like it's on fire, don't worry! That spicy food isn’t necessarily damaging your teeth. But, like mom used to say: everything in moderation.
The Downside of Spice
Although spicy foods aren’t inherently bad for your teeth, there are some things you should be aware of if you plan on indulging frequently.
1) Spicy food can be painful for sensitive teeth
If you already suffer from sensitive teeth caused by receding gum lines or tooth decay, spicy foods may not be the best staple in your diet. Just like when you eat overly sweet foods, sensitive teeth can be tender to spicy foods. The heat of the food combined with high levels of acidity can cause discomfort that may take away the joy of spice entirely.
TIP: If spicy foods are causing pain or irritation to your sensitive teeth, try modifying the heat index and pull back the spice to a more comfortable level. You don’t have to suffer to enjoy the spicy foods you love to eat!
2) Spicy food can aggravate acid reflux
While spicy foods themselves won’t damage your teeth, they can cause acid reflux, which can cause tooth erosion and weaken enamel.
TIP: If you suffer from acid reflux after eating spicy food, take the safe route, and cut back on your consumption. Your stomach and your teeth will be better off in the long run.
3) Hot sauce can pack a fair amount of sugar
It turns out sugar and spice do not equal everything nice. The fan-favorite spicy condiment could be the biggest tooth offender when it comes to spicy food. Store-bought hot sauce can contain high amounts of sugar, which can lead to tooth decay. It can also include highly acidic ingredients like vinegar, tomato, and lemon, which can eat away at tooth enamel over time. Always check the label before buying hot sauce from the store and try an option with lower sugar content.
TIP: Offset the acidity of hot sauce by drinking water or rinsing after eating. Do not brush your teeth immediately. It will only spread the acid on our teeth and cause further damage.
4) Spicy food can discolor teeth
Some spicy foods contain ingredients that can stain or discolor your teeth if they are eaten too often. For example, curry contains turmeric which can leave some pretty unsightly yellow stains to teeth if eaten too frequently. The dark color of hot sauce, paired with its high acidity, has also been known to produce tooth discoloration over time.
TIP: Try whitening your teeth with a gentle whitening agent or whitening toothpaste to remove surface stains and minor discoloration.