Could Healthy Foods and Drinks Protect Your Teeth?

Could Healthy Foods Protect Your Teeth?

What you eat impacts your oral health, particularly how you can better protect your smile against common problems like cavities. Few people in the world are immune to cavities. In fact, 60 to 90 percent of the world’s population have cavities, periodontal disease, and tooth loss. Can beer and red wine help combat dental disease? We know that red wine has certain health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and protecting your heart. Beer also has health benefits. Beer–especially darker brews–contains natural antioxidants which can help reverse cellular damage, and help prevent heart disease. It also contains iron which carries oxygen from your lungs to other parts of your body, as well as other vitamins that can help rebuild muscle. Microbrews contain more hops, which contain polyphenols, which help kill viruses, lower cholesterol, and fight cancer. New research indicates that extracts from hop leaves and red wine both contain agents that can help fight oral bacteria.

Oral Bacteria And Dental Disease

Our oral cavity harbors thousands of bacteria, some good and some bad. The two most common harmful bacteria found in the oral cavity are streptococcus mutans and porphyromonas gingivalis.

Porphyromonas gingivalis is a harmful bacteria that is not normally present in the mouth of healthy individuals, but if it develops it can lead to periodontal disease and tooth loss.

Streptococcus mutans is the bacteria that feed on the sugars and starches left in your mouth after you eat. As this bacterium interacts with the sugars and starches, acids that eat away enamel are produced, making these bacteria the major cause of tooth decay.

Colonies of bacteria form biofilms, a thick, sticky substance that forms on your teeth. Left untreated the biofilm hardens into plaque which hardens into tartar, a cement-like substance. Plaque and tartar are harmful to your teeth and gums and can lead to periodontitis and tooth loss.

Hop Leaves fight Oral Bacteria 

Recent research indicates that both beer and red wine can be beneficial to dental health by fighting harmful bacteria.

Beer

Hops give beer its bitter taste and is more prominent in darker brews.  According to the ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, new research discovered that a part of hops that is not used in beer contains antioxidants that may fight cavities and periodontal disease. The extracts from hop leaves contain antioxidant polyphenols which stop oral disease-causing bacteria from sticking to surfaces, while also preventing the release of certain bacterial toxins. Hops leaves are also high in proanthocyanidins, healthful antioxidants. Bracts (hop leaves) are normally discarded, but with the nearly 2,300 tons of hops harvested in the U.S. annually, large amounts may be potentially available to use for disease fighting dental applications.

Wine

Research indicates that red wine and grape seed extract can help slow the growth of harmful oral bacteria.  Cultures of oral bacteria were cultivated, in vitro, as biofilm. The biofilms were then dipped in a variety of liquids including red wine, non-alcoholic red wine, red wine mixed with grape seed extract, and a water and ethanol mixture. The red wine, non-alcoholic red wine, and the wine mixed with grape seed extract were the most effective in eliminating the biofilm.

As people get together to socialize with friends and family during the summer months, they can take solace in the fact that a glass of wine can be beneficial to their dental health. Both beer and wine each have several health benefits. However, you should also remember… everything in moderation. Too much wine can help increase decay due to wine’s acidity. The longer you keep wine in contact with your teeth the more chance of enamel erosion, so don’t swish, just sip. Both red and white wine can increase tooth stains. When finished drinking your glass of wine, rinse with water to wash away any residual effects. Tooth enamel can be softened by exposure to acids, so do not brush your teeth too soon after drinking wine.

What You Drink Matters!

What you drink can have an even greater impact on oral health, and that is because people tend to drink slower than they eat, allowing the sugars and acidity in their beverages to spend longer on the surface of teeth. This is why people who regularly drink sweetened beverages like sodas, sweet teas, and even many juices and smoothies, are at greater risk fo cavities.

Protect your smile by drinking mostly water, and limiting sweet drinks to occasional treats, rather than sipping on them all day long.

What Should You Eat for a Healthy Smile?

There are several foods that are actually great for oral health, not to mention they can supply your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs. Vegetables and fruits, for instance, tend to be high in nutrients and low in sugar. They’re also often filled with water, which is great for one’s smile, since it helps create saliva. Saliva helps to break down foods, and also limits plaque’s ability to stick to teeth.

Lean proteins, healthy fats like nuts, and dairy products can also offer beneficial nutrients, and many are low in sugar. You should read labels when purchasing any prepackaged items, though. That’s because seemingly healthy options like yogurt, or even some milk products, can still be high in sugar, which can contribute to plaque buildup.

Aside from providing dependable general, and restorative dentistry services to our community, Dr. James Fondriest also holds respected academic appointments at the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, FL, and the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, and he is a former adjunct Assistant 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, knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve the Chicago metropolitan area including the North Shore and Northwest suburbs. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.

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