Brushing and flossing are essential steps to keep your teeth and gums bright and healthy. However, your diet may have a more critical role to play in maintaining good oral health. Read more about the ideal diet to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
1. Food that Causes Tooth Decay
Tooth decay occurs when sugar reacts with the bacteria found in plaque to create acid, which starts to erode the tooth’s enamel. This causes a hole, or cavity, to form in the soft interior of the tooth called dentine. Some foods that contribute to tooth decay include:
- Sugar and processed foods with high levels of added sugar.
- Carbonated beverages and fruit juices.
- Starchy foods and refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and potatoes.
- Acidic fruits and vegetables.
- Candy and dried fruits.
2. How Food and Drink Causes Erosion
It is not only what food and drink you consume but also when you eat and drink. When foods high in acid, sugar or refined carbohydrates come in contact with the surface of your teeth, they begin to erode the protective enamel outer layer. The longer these substances stay on your teeth, the more damage they will do.
3. Side Effects of Snacks and Sweets
Though snacks and sweets taste great, they aren’t so great for your teeth and gums. Sweets and snacks are typically high in sugar and refined carbohydrates which convert to sugar in the mouth and cause tooth decay.
However, tooth decay also depends on how often you eat rather than simply what you eat. It is preferable to eat 3 meals per day rather than 6 – 8 snacks, as snacking will lead to increased contact between your teeth and decay-causing foods.
Eating sweets in moderation is acceptable as long as you do not eat them continuously throughout the day. However, the overall consumption of sugar-laden foods can lead to inflammation throughout the body, including your mouth.
4. Importance of Healthy Diet for Oral Health
Just as there are foods which can damage your teeth and gums, there are also foods that can contribute to your oral health. Many foods contain essential vitamins and minerals for repairing soft enamel, compounds which reduce inflammation in the gum, reducing the risk of gum disease or stimulate the flow of saliva for protecting the teeth from bacteria. To learn more about how your diet can impact your oral health, make an appointment at Knutsford Dental Clinic to speak with a dentist.
5. List of Best Food you Should Include in your Daily Diet
- Sugar-free products such as sugar-free gum or jelly often contain the artificial sweetener, Xylitol which stimulates saliva to wash away harmful bacteria from your teeth.
- Onions and other vegetables from the Allium genus, contain a compound called allicin which has antimicrobial properties to eliminate bacteria.
- Leafy greens contain high levels of antioxidants and folic acid, which are essential for cell renewal.
- Green tea without added sugar contains a specific type of antioxidant called catechins, which target the bacteria responsible for gum disease.
- Citrus fruits contain high levels of vitamin C, which is needed to repair tissues, bones and teeth.
- Apples and carrots are both high in fibre to stimulate the gums and are hard to chew, forcing you to produce extra saliva.
- Milk products are not only high in calcium, which is essential for remineralising damaged enamel, but they also have a high pH which neutralises the acid on your teeth.
6. Some Important Oral Hygiene Tips
· Brush Your Teeth
Brush your teeth every night before sleep as your saliva levels reduce during the night, leaving your teeth at risk of acid wear. Don’t forget to gently brush your gums to remove plaque and improve blood flow.
While you should also brush your teeth after every meal, it is important to wait approximately 30 minutes before brushing after eating foods that may cause acid wear. This gives the saliva time to remove bacteria and for the enamel to settle and prevent erosion.
Flossing your teeth at least once per day removes food particles that a toothbrush can’t reach. This reduces your teeth’s exposure to acid wear and reduces the risk of plaque build-up.
· Rinse with Water
After eating foods high in sugar or acid, rinse your mouth out with water to remove residue from the surface of your teeth and flush away harmful bacteria.
· Use a Straw
If you drink fruit juice or carbonated beverages, use a straw, so the drink bypasses your teeth and minimises contact with enamel-eroding acid.
In addition to maintaining a good oral hygiene routine, make changes to your diet to reduce the amount of acid-causing food you consume and increase foods that contribute to good oral health, and get regular check-ups with your dentist to catch small problems before they become bigger.