Best and Worst Foods for your Dental Health
They say you are what you eat, and in no better place can that be seen than in your teeth. That’s because many foods and beverages can cause plaque, which does serious damage to your teeth. Plaque is a bacteria-filled sticky film that contributes to gum disease and tooth decay. After you eat a sugary snack or meal, the sugars cause the bacteria to release acids that attack tooth’s enamel. When the enamel breaks down, cavities can develop.
From the time we are kids, we are told to brush and floss twice a day for healthier teeth. There are also everyday foods that are teeth-friendly and will help make a positive difference in your overall oral health.
Apples, carrots and celery; Broccoli and green leafy vegetables: Chewing on these crunchy, fiber-filled fruits and vegetables will help to scrub away the plaque on your teeth. Eat your greens for vitamins and minerals that help strengthen your tooth enamel. Fruits and veggies are an important part of a balanced diet, as well as being good for your teeth. Since they are high in fiber and water, they help balance the sugars they contain and help clean your teeth as you eat them. Chewing also helps stimulate saliva production, which washes away harmful acids and food particles from your teeth and gums.
Milk, cheese and yogurt: Dairy products are a great source of calcium, vitamin D and phosphates, which strengthen and protect your teeth. Milk and other dairy products are lower in sugar which is better for your dental health.
Eggs: Eggs are a superfood with protein, vitamin D and phosphates, which are important minerals to improve your oral health.
Nuts and seeds: These crunchy foods help replenish the minerals in tooth enamel that gets removed by acidic foods. In addition to containing healthy proteins, nuts are also low in carbohydrates and don’t add to your risk of cavities. Tooth decay is caused by acid-producing bacteria that are activated by carbs.
Fluoride in water: Drinking water with fluoride is important for strong, healthy teeth, especially for children. Water is the best beverage for your oral health. Fluoride in the water helps make your teeth more resistant to the acids that can cause cavities.
Some foods may taste great, but are not good for your oral health. Although fillings, crowns, and professional whitening can make your teeth stronger and brighter, it’s better (and cheaper!) to avoid cavities and stains in the first place, by brushing, flossing, and—last but not least—eating right. Fortunately, foods like candy that don’t always play nice with our teeth are generally harmless in moderation.
Sticky candy: The stickier the candy, the worse it tends to be for your teeth. Extra-chewy candies—like gummies, taffy, caramels—stick to (and between) teeth for a long time, allowing the bacteria in our mouths to feast leisurely on the deposited sugar.
Hard Candy: Hard candies don’t cling to your teeth as readily as chewy candy, but they have their own downside: Unlike, say, chocolate-based sweets, which are chewed quickly and wash away relatively easily, hard candy dissolves slowly and saturates your mouth for several minutes at a time, giving bacteria more time to produce harmful acid. Additionally, if you bite down wrong on some hard candies, they can chip your teeth—something no amount of brushing or flossing can repair. They call them jawbreakers for a reason!
Soda: It’s no secret that drinking too many sugary sodas can breed cavities. What’s less well-known is that the acids found in carbonated soft drinks appear to harm teeth even more than the sugar. Even sugar-free diet sodas —which contain citric and phosphoric acid—can erode enamel if consumed in large doses. If you can’t do without soda, your best bet is to drink it during a meal, rather than sipping it throughout the day. The food will help neutralize the acid.
Sports/Energy drinks: If you’re in the mood for something sweet or fizzy, sports drinks and energy drinks may seem like a good alternative to soda. But Gatorade or Red Bull won’t do your teeth any favors, either. These beverages are acidic, too, and are potentially even more damaging to teeth.
Crackers, chips and white bread: The refined carbohydrates found in many types these processed foods convert to sugar in the mouth very quickly, providing fodder for cavity-forming bacteria. These starchy foods also become mushy when chewed, turning into a paste-like goop that builds up in your molars and lodges between teeth. If you frequently binge on chips or crackers you may have cause for concern, but eating them in moderation isn’t likely to cause any long-term problems, so long as you keep up on your brushing and flossing.
Cavities are the most common chronic disease faced by people aged six to 19 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They cause complications like pain, chewing problems, and tooth abscesses. And if you don’t brush or floss your teeth, your plaque will harden and turn into tartar. Tartar above the gums can lead to gingivitis, an early form of gum disease. Make your check-up and cleaning appointment today with the doctors at Prairie Lakes Dental, where we are committed to helping your entire family achieve optimum dental health.