I'm all-in on breakfast smoothies right now. They're filling and easy to make before logging into work, and I try to pack mine with good-for-me ingredients like green veggies, flaxseeds, and almond butter. But for the sake of my teeth, I'm going to be more particular about what fruits I'm throwing in the blender from now on.
Depending on what's in your smoothie, the snack could be damaging to your tooth enamel.
Dr. Sophya Morghem, DMD of Sunset Dentistry, says that the biggest concern with smoothies and damaging your enamel is the acidic foods added to the mix. "The main culprits are not just lemons and limes, but can include berries, passionfruit, and kiwi," Dr. Morghem said. "This acid can wear enamel over time by dissolving the mineral structure of teeth."
Some other common acidic ingredients include green apple and pineapple — which Dr. Morghem said are typically found in green smoothies.
When asked how often you'd need to drink smoothies for them to make a profound difference on your enamel, Dr. Morghem said it really varies from person-to-person, so don't toss your blender just yet.
However, she added that drinking smoothies 4-5 times per week, or more, can put you at risk — "especially if these drinks are consumed alone or in-between meals."
Those who have been diagnosed with tooth erosion should stay away from acidic smoothies, though. "Also, those with GERD, if this hasn't been diagnosed early, may exhibit signs of tooth erosion and should see your dentist," Dr. Morghem said.
As long as you haven't been specifically told to stay away from smoothies from a medical professional, you can drink 'em and protect your enamel, too, by making some tiny tweaks.
Dr. Morghem said to consider less acidic items like spinach and bananas, and add in buffering ingredients like yogurt, milk, or milk substitutes.
"This will dilute the acid of the fruit ingredients and reduce the erosion on the enamel," she said. If you're not adding in these buffering foods, you should consider eliminating the extremely acidic ingredients.
How you consume your smoothie can also make a difference. Enjoying it with a reusable straw can help limit the contact of your smoothie on your teeth. Dr. Morghem added that you can also drink the smoothies with a meal to buffer the acidity, too.
While it might seem counterintuitive, you shouldn't brush your teeth immediately after you've finished an acidic smoothie.
"This will increase the amount of wear on the teeth because you are basically scrubbing in the acid, allowing it to penetrate deeper and wear more of the tooth surface," Dr. Morghem said.