You brush and floss your teeth and visit the dentist regularly. But can what you eat and drink hurt your chances for optimal dental health? The answer is yes, especially if you eat a lot of sweet or starchy foods.
Plaque: Invisible but dangerous
We all have plaque. We can’t see it, but it lines our teeth and contains bacteria that eats away at tooth enamel. Regular brushing and prophylaxis (also known as teeth cleaning) is crucial to maintaining oral health, but so is being mindful of what we eat and drink. Some foods and beverages are harder on your teeth than others. Moderation is the key in all things, but completely avoiding some, while limiting others, goes a long way in preventive dental hygiene.
Sweet and sour
The plaque inside our mouths contains bacteria. That bacteria takes sugar and turns it into acid. Acids are corrosive so it’s easy to see how sugary foods negatively impact our teeth. The more sugar we consume, the higher the risk of tooth decay. Not surprisingly, the biggest offenders are sweets. Candy, especially the sticky and sour varieties that people enjoy for minutes at a time, create the most acid. There is good news for chocolate lovers, however: chocolate washes off quickly. Soda and other carbonated beverages also pose a risk. Not only do they contain high levels of sugar, but these types of beverages also contain acids of their own that eat at the enamel of our teeth.
Soft and starchy
The starch found in foods such as potato chips also contributes to the forming of harmful acids in the mouth. Bread is not only starchy, but soft which makes it easier to get stuck between teeth where to will continue to turn acidic. Bread is a staple of our diets and hard to avoid, but less refined bread, such as whole grain or whole wheat, are better options. After eating bread or any soft food, it is important to floss.
Healthy foods for strong teeth
Fruits and vegetables, especially those high in fiber, help keep teeth and gums clean. They do this by keeping the saliva in your mouth flowing. Fruits, such as strawberries, bananas, and apples are good choices. Beets, carrots, and broccoli are high in fiber as well. Beans, nuts, and seeds have benefits that extend beyond oral health so include these as well. Watch out for sticky dried fruit like apricots and raisins. Drinking black and green teas have a number of health benefits including their use in destroying the bacteria formed by plaque. Dairy products (cheese, milk, plain yogurt) restore minerals to the teeth and help rebuild enamel.
Watching what you eat and drink is a great way to practice preventive dental care. This is in addition to daily activities like brushing and flossing. Scheduling regular checkups, cleanings, and x-rays is also important.
Schedule a checkup today!
In addition to preventive dental care, our partners at University Dental Associates perform tooth extractions and repair, tooth replacement, and restoration. Schedule an appointment online today or call us at 708-304-8406.