There is a well-known saying: you are what you eat. This adage also applies to your mouth and your teeth. To maintain good oral health and prevent dental cavities, what you eat matters. When you eat certain foods, changes immediately start happening in your mouth. Bacteria become busy converting carbohydrates and sugars into acids. These acids attack the enamel on your teeth, starting the process of decay. The more times in a day you eat, the more frequently you expose yourself to poor dental health.
What Are the Most Healthy Foods and Drinks for Dental Health?
The best food choices for oral health include meats, cheeses, milk, and nuts. These foods help to protect tooth enamel by providing calcium and phosphorus to remineralize your teeth after acids have removed these minerals. If you are lactose intolerant, green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli are also high in calcium. Other good food choices include firm fruits and vegetables like apples, pears, and raw carrots. These foods contain a lot of water which dilutes the sugars they contain. They also stimulate the flow of saliva, which helps to wash away food particles and acids. Acidic foods, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, should be consumed as part of a larger meal to minimize the acid they contain.
- The best choices for drinking include water (especially fluoridated water), milk, and unsweetened tea.
What Foods and Drinks Are Poor Choices for Oral Health?
Bad food choices include cookies, candy, cough drops, pies, cakes, breads, muffins, pretzels, potato chips, french fries, and dried fruits. These foods are high in sugar content, and many of them tend to stick to your teeth and provide a plentiful source of fuel for oral bacteria.
- Avoid drinks containing significant amounts of sugar, such as sodas, soft drinks, lemonade, and coffee or tea sweetened with sugar.
Should I Eat Sugar-Free Food?
Beware the advertising – sugar-free or sugarless food implies that no sugar was added during processing. However, these foods may contain other natural sweeteners – evaporated cane sugar, fructose, honey, rice syrup, molasses, barley malt. These natural sweeteners can be just as harmful to your teeth as sugar.
- Read the ingredients – words that end in ose (e.g., fructose and sucrose) indicate the presence of a natural sweetener.
- Are sugar substitutes good for dental health? – Artificial sugar substitutes are not digested in the same way as sugar, which means they don’t feed the oral bacteria that produce decay-causing acids.
Final Thoughts on Oral Health
Pay attention to your diet. Eat a variety of foods that help to maintain good dental health. Do your best to avoid foods containing sugars and starches between meals. If you need a snack, reach for a piece of cheese, some plain yogurt, raw vegetables, or a firm fruit. Brush your teeth, preferably within 30-60 minutes after every meal and snack with a fluoridated toothpaste. Use a mouth rinse and floss at least once a day. Finally, visit your dentist twice a year for cleanings and check-ups. And, if you live near us, Old Mt Pleasant Dentistry will help your family prevent tooth decay. So, work on your diet and make an appointment with us.