Food provides your body with essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy. Certain foods are bad for your teeth and others are considered better. Some are just empty calories while others can provide energy, brain power, or protect you from illness. Although you may not often give it a thought, food affects your teeth too. Today we discuss various foods and their affect on your teeth.
Foods Bad for Your Teeth
Candy and other sweets: You know that candy and other sweets high in refined sugar are not good for your teeth. Certain harmful oral bacteria consume the sugars leftover in your mouth and in the process produce plaque which causes tooth decay. Some sticky candies and sweets to avoid include caramels, gummies, lollipops, cough drops, cookies, cakes, frosting, and the list goes on.
Soda and other sugary drinks: The second food you know you should avoid is carbonated soft drinks, including diet soda. You may think that candy is the leading source of sugar for kids, but it’s not, it’s soda. Soda intake among children, teens, and young adults has increased over the past decade. One can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar in addition to citric acid and phosphoric acid, both of which erode tooth enamel.
Starchy foods: Although you may not know it, starchy foods like bread, potato chips, and pretzels, not only get trapped between your teeth, but the bad bacteria mentioned earlier also feast on starches producing plaque.
Medicines and alcoholic drinks: Alcoholic drinks and certain medications can dry out your mouth. Your mouth needs saliva to help keep it clean, remineralize your enamel, and keep your teeth and gums healthy. A dry mouth can result in tooth decay or other oral conditions.
Foods Good for Your Teeth
Dairy products: You know that calcium is good for your bones and teeth. Some dairy products also contain phosphates. The calcium and phosphates in certain dairy products help restore minerals your teeth need to remain healthy. Dairy products that are good for your teeth include cheese, plain yogurt, and milk.
Fruits and vegetables: Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables help cleanse your oral cavity. They also stimulate saliva flow. Your saliva is one of the best natural defenses against cavities and gum disease because it neutralizes acids that cause decay. The calcium and phosphate found in your saliva also helps remineralize your enamel.
Fluoride: Any food or beverage prepared with fluoridated water helps repair and strengthen your teeth. Some commercially prepared foods contain fluoride such as cereal, seafood, and poultry. Bottled water is not fluoridated. Therefore food prepared with bottled water–or drinking bottled water–will not provide the same dental advantages.
Tea: Green and black teas contain polyphenols–a chemical found in plants–that can kill or neutralize bacteria preventing them from producing harmful acids.
Gum: Chewing sugarless gum, or chewing gum or sucking on mints that contain xylitol, is beneficial after meals. Sugarless gum generates saliva which helps remove food particles, cleanse your mouth, and remineralize tooth enamel. Xylitol prevents harmful bacteria from replicating and producing plaque.
To help reduce tooth decay caused by foods you eat, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends:
- Water: Drink more fluoridated water.
- Snacks: Limit snacks between meals. If you must snack, eat something nutritious and chew sugarless gum after it to increase saliva flow. Remember, saliva cleanses your mouth and neutralizes acids.
- Sugar: Eat sugary foods during meals. More saliva is produced during meals than at other times.
- Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day and floss daily.
Next time you have a craving for soda, try one of the following alternatives:
- Spruce up water with lemons, oranges, watermelon, cucumber, mint, limes, or other kinds of fruits and veggies. Also, freeze bits of these fruits and herbs for festive, colorful ice cubes.
- Indulge in a glass of red wine, which (in moderation) has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attack, Alzheimer’s, and certain cancers.
- Drink green tea, which helps reduce the risk of several types of cancer, heart disease, hypertension, kidney stones, and dental and general health problems.
- Vegetable juice is a convenient way to consume all of your veggies in just a few gulps. Opt for low-sodium, sugar-free juices to reap all of the benefits.
- Combine your favorite juice with Seltzer of Club Soda for a soda-like, flavorful beverage. Just make sure that your juice is 100 percent natural with no added sugar.
- Milk is the best way to consume calcium, which directly impacts the health of your teeth and bones.
Learn the Foods Bad for Your Teeth
If you reach for a soda every time you’re thirsty, you’re doing damage to your teeth that you might not be aware of. Even though sodas are refreshing, the acid content found in this carbonated beverage is very high and, therefore, very bad for your smile. This acid can contribute to plaque on your teeth and the erosion of your tooth enamel, which can eventually lead to tooth decay, tooth loss, cavities, and tooth sensitivity.
Aside from providing expert general and cosmetic dentistry services to our community, Dr. James Fondriest also holds highly-respected academic appointments at the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, FL, and the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, and he is a former Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Florida Dental School. Dr. Fondriest combines his impressive array of experience with modern technology and caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve patients from Chicago and all surrounding communities. To schedule your consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.