Do you have a craving for buffalo wings, curry or other hot foods? How do spicy foods affect gum health and should you be careful about eating them? If you’ve ever wondered how that fiery feeling you enjoy from spicy foods can impact your dental health, here’s what you should know.
The Good News
The good news about enjoying spicy foods is that they aren’t inherently bad for your dental health. The spice in foods can cause tooth sensitivity, but doesn’t directly cause damage to your teeth or gums. There are still some things you should be aware of, though, to ensure the safety and protection of your teeth and gums when enjoying your favorite hot foods.
The bad news is, very spicy food can cause gum irritation if your gums are sensitive to it. If your gums appear swollen, red, puffy or feel tender after eating spicy foods, it’s a good idea to enjoy them in moderation. Rinsing with a salt water mixture of 1 teaspoon of salt in a cup of water can also help. Salt has natural antiseptic and healing properties that work to soothe irritation and discomfort.
When asking, “How do spicy foods affect gum health?” It’s important to be aware of other ingredients that are common in spicy foods that may negatively affect your gum and dental health.
Many people don’t notice, but spicy foods often contain high amounts of sugar to balance the flavor of the spice. Next time you grab a bottle of barbecue or hot sauce, check the ingredient label for sugar content and try to select options that contain less sugar. While sugar doesn’t directly harm your gums, it feeds the naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth, and produces a sticky clear substance called plaque that can lead to gum disease and cavities.
Other ingredients to watch out for with regard to your dental health include dark coloring, such as with barbecue sauce, or the yellow colored spice turmeric, a common ingredient in curry, that can cause discoloration and staining of your teeth.
When to See Your Dentist
If you’re experiencing sensitivity or irritation after eating spicy foods, it’s important to see your dentist for an exam. Increased sensitivity or irritation in your mouth can be related to gum disease or tooth decay, and your dentist will be able to help you find out what’s causing it. It’s also a great opportunity to ask your dentist more questions like, “How do spicy foods affect gum health?” so they can help you know how to keep your smile healthy and bright while enjoying the fun things in life like your favorite foods.
Call our Houston 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.