How Does Your Diet Affect Your Teeth?
by: Aesthetic Dental Creations
Although preventable, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease affecting adults and children. Along with proper at-home oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist, the proper diet can help keep your teeth healthy and decay-free. What you eat and when you eat it can have a great impact on your dental health, which many people often overlook.
How does your diet affect your teeth? First, there is the obvious: consuming sticky, sugary snacks can cause cavities. Beyond that, though, poor overall nutrition, refined carbohydrates, certain drinks, and constant snacking between meals can erode tooth enamel and lead to cavities.
Decay is caused when sugar combines with plaque, forming an acidic paste that adheres to the teeth, eroding their protective enamel. Certain foods and drinks compound the problem, increasing the odds of decay. The mouth’s production of saliva also plays a crucial role in preventing cavities, as it keeps the mouth moist, washes away food particles, and contains compounds that strengthen and protect the teeth.
Fortunately, diet is something that we can control, and decreasing your consumption of the wrong foods while increasing your consumption of the right ones can make a difference in maintaining a healthy mouth. As an added bonus, it will also improve your overall health.
How Can You Improve Your Diet to Protect Your Teeth?
- Avoid sugary, sticky foods:
Chewy and hard candy, dried fruit, taffy, and lollipops are sugary substances that adhere to the teeth and settle into grooves on the teeth’s surfaces. These sticky foods are difficult for the saliva to break down and linger on the teeth, sometimes even after brushing and flossing. Needless to say, the longer sugar remains on the teeth, the more chance there is of decay. These foods can also loosen and damage fillings and dental work, further increasing the odds of cavities developing.
1. Avoid refined, sugary carbohydrates:
Many people don’t realize that just like sugary, sticky foods, refined carbohydrates can also lead to decay as they break down into a sugary paste. Starchy foods such as baked goods, chips, pretzels, and crackers also stick to the tooth’s surface, and their mushy, gooey consistency settles easily into the teeth’s grooves. These foods create the perfect haven for bacteria and decay to attack.
2. Watch what you drink:
Soda, sugary juices and sports drinks, citrus juices, and acidic coffee and tea can weaken tooth enamel, leaving it prone to decay. If you have one of these beverages, be sure to rinse the mouth thoroughly with water afterwards, use a straw to avoid contact with the teeth, and drink it in one sitting rather than constantly sipping it throughout the day to limit exposure. Again, limit your consumption of these types of drinks and stay hydrated with plenty of water.
3. Choose foods and drinks that benefit your teeth:
Healthy food and beverage choices for teeth include dairy selections such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, which contain calcium that fortifies teeth and bones. Nuts and proteins are also good options, as are raw, crunchy fruits and vegetables that scrub away plaque and food particles as you chew. As you know, eating these foods will also help you maintain a good weight and overall health.
4. Eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet:
Keep healthy through eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals; it will also promote good oral health. Make sure you eat a variety of foods across all five food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy) in order to consume the vitamins and minerals necessary for the body— and mouth— to stay strong, function properly, repair itself, and fight off infections.
5. Drink plenty of water:
Drinking water washes away food particles and keeps the mouth moist, which provides a healthy environment for teeth and gums. Fluorinated water re-mineralizes the teeth, further protecting against decay.
6. Pay attention to when you eat:
In maintaining a healthy diet, moderation is key. Limit snacking between meals and avoid constantly sipping drinks throughout the day, except for water. Do not snack before bed. Eating at mealtime is beneficial because combinations of food help neutralize damaging effects. It also allows time in between eating for the mouth to produce saliva, which re-calcifies the teeth. Indulging in a sugary snack or drink once in a while is fine, but it should not be a habit.
In addition, poor nutrition can impact your gums. Periodontitis, or gum disease, can also be linked to health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, and immune diseases, all of which can benefit from a healthy diet. If the body is weak and prone to infection, the gums are susceptible to periodontitis.
If you have any questions about how dietary choices can positively or negatively impact your teeth and gums, please call Aesthetic Dental Creations today at 732-363-5370, or request an appointment online. We would be happy to assess your and your family’s dental health and discuss how good nutritional choices can keep your smile healthy and decay-free. Maintaining optimal dental health through adhering to a proper diet, oral hygiene regimen, and regular visits to the dentist will help your teeth last a lifetime!
Dr. Balaji Srinivasan, known to his patients as “Dr. Balaji,” has been providing general and cosmetic dental services in Ocean County, NJ since 1997, with patients from Ocean County, Monmouth County, and other areas of Central New Jersey. At Aesthetic Dental Creations of Jackson, NJ, Dr. Balaji and his dental office staff remain dedicated to providing each patient with superior care and customer service, as well as precise dental procedures using the latest technology innovations and cutting-edge procedures. Aesthetic Dental Creations provides dental services for the entire family. At Aesthetic Dental Creations, patients of all ages have a lot to smile about!