Diet plays a bigger role in oral health than most people realize. Everything that you eat or drink comes into contact with your teeth. With the average American diet consisting of processed, sugary, and acidic foods, maintaining good oral health is more important than ever.
When sugar reacts with the bacteria in plaque, acids are formed that eat away at tooth enamel. Over time, enamel can break down causing cavities. Poor nutrition can also affect the immune system, increasing a person’s susceptibility to certain disorders and infections.
Eating a balanced diet, in combination with a stringent oral health routine, can help keep your smile bright and healthy. Learn how your diet affects your teeth and how you can avoid common problems like tooth decay and gum disease.
Diet and Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is damage to a tooth due to decay-causing bacteria in the mouth. When foods containing carbohydrates, such as starches and sugars, are left on the teeth, they eventually combine with the bacteria that lives in plaque. Acids form which attack the enamel, creating holes in the teeth called cavities.
While cakes and candies are the most known culprits of tooth decay, they’re far from the only ones. Breads, cereals, sauces, syrups, and even more unlikely sources like milk and fruit can contribute to decay due to the high sugar content. The longer you go without brushing after consuming carbs, the more likely your teeth will sustain acid damage.
Snacking Between Meals
According to a “State of Snacking” report, approximately 59 percent of adults revealed that they prefer to snack rather than eat meals. The occasional snack usually won’t hurt, but when snacking is continuous or replaces meals, your smile can suffer. This is because most people tend to snack on unhealthy foods, such as chips or sweets.
It is best to limit snacking between meals to avoid continuous acid attacks on your teeth. If you must snack, consider a nutritious choice, such as yogurt, cheese, nuts, or fresh veggies.
Harmful Foods for Teeth
Some foods and beverages are particularly harmful to the teeth. Empty-calorie foods and drinks, such as sticky candies and regular sodas, offer no nutritional value but are very high in sugars.
Acidic foods can also be harmful to teeth. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, and other acidic foods can be harsh on tooth enamel, causing it to break down over time. While healthier treats like dried fruit may seem like a good alternative, this is not always the case. Many dried fruits, such as figs, prunes, raisins, and apricots, are sticky and cling to the teeth. The sugar in the dried fruits can linger in the mouth as the food particles are hard to remove.
Alcohol is another common offender. While most people know that alcohol is not good for your overall health, it can have a direct negative impact on your teeth. Alcohol can dry out your mouth which prevents saliva from washing away acids from the teeth.
Beneficial Foods for Teeth
While there are many foods and drinks that are harmful for the teeth, there are also many healthy options. Some of the best foods for dental health include leafy greens, cheese, plain yogurt, almonds, and calcium-fortified tofu. These foods contain high amounts of nutrients and calcium that contribute to strong teeth.
It is also important to have plenty of protein in your diet. Poultry, meat, fish, and eggs are excellent sources of protein which plays a critical role in protecting teeth and rebuilding tooth enamel. Of course, a balanced diet should also contain plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables which are high in fiber and water.
Consult a Melbourne, FL Dentist
Along with eating a healthy diet and avoiding foods that are high in sugars and starches, it is important to see your Melbourne, Florida dentist on a regular basis to remove the buildup of plaque on your teeth. You should have a routine dental cleaning twice a year. During a cleaning, your dental hygienist will carefully get rid of harmful plaque and tartar on the teeth and gum line. Reach out to Artistic Touch Dentistry today to schedule a dental cleaning or to learn more about the impact of your diet on your smile.