Good dental hygiene is essential to your overall health, and when you maintain your oral health you can feel confident flashing those pearly whites in a smile. The best method to preserve your dental health and smile is through healthy prevention. Your diet plays a large part in this. The foods you eat have a large impact on your gums and teeth. The good news is tooth decay is easily preventable with regular trips to the dentist, consistent brushing and flossing, and a healthy diet. Keep reading to find out which foods cause tooth decay and what you can eat to strengthen and protect your teeth.
Foods That Cause Tooth Decay
It doesn’t matter how old you are, the reason you experience tooth decay is going to be the same. This process occurs when plaque with bacteria gets stuck on your teeth. The bacteria feeds on the sugar in your diet turning it into acid, and the acid dissolves your tooth structure creating cavities.
When you eat a diet containing a lot of foods that are bad for your teeth, this contributes to plaque build-up and eventual tooth decay. Below is a list of the foods you should try to limit or stay away from to maintain your dental health and keep your smile healthy and bright.
Foods That Damage Teeth
Starchy Snack Foods
Foods that contain cooked starches—particularly potato starches—such as chips and crackers actually cling to your teeth more than sugary foods like candy and chocolate. When starches get stuck in your teeth, this gives bacteria a longer period of time to produce acid, leading to more dissolution of your teeth.
Acidic Foods and Beverages
Any foods and beverages containing acid can be a problem for teeth if consumed regularly. Acidic foods and beverages contribute to tooth sensitivity, and over time lead to the breakdown of your tooth enamel. Enamel is the protective tooth layer surrounding the nerve, and as it thins more and more of the nerve is exposed progressing to discomfort and pain. Common acidic food and drinks include lemons, grapefruit juice, powdered fruit drinks, pickles, and sports drinks.
Due to the amount of sugar in soda, it has had a long association with tooth decay and cavities. Unfortunately, sugar is not the only culprit in soda that damages teeth. Dentists also worry about the high acid content. The acids in soda attack the calcium in teeth and erode tooth enamel. With weakened enamel, sugar in soda has a higher probability of penetrating teeth, leading to tooth decay and the formation of cavities.
Chewy foods usually have high sugar content, and the hazard sugar poses to your teeth has previously been mentioned. That being said, the reason chewy foods, such as dried fruits, taffy, or caramels, are so terrible for teeth is they must be chewed longer meaning the sugar is in contact with your teeth for a longer period of time. Cue the acid-producing, cavity-producing bacteria! A feast has just been created for these nasty microbes, allowing them to thrive and wreak havoc on your smile.
Tooth Friendly Foods
While you can eat a diet full of foods bad for your oral health, you can also eat foods to put a stop to and even reverse the damage that’s been done to your teeth. These foods fall into two categories: foods to eat when you have a cavity and foods that clean your teeth.
Foods to Eat When You Have a Cavity
It is commonly known calcium benefits oral health by strengthening teeth. Calcium provides the essential building blocks teeth require on a regular basis, and helps put minerals back into teeth that were lost while eating. It also encourages the production and flow of saliva. Salivation is important because it helps neutralize any acids in your mouth, washes away food debris, and reduces the bacteria that cause food decay.
Many accept dairy products like milk and cheese to be the best sources of calcium, but this isn’t necessarily true. There are many seafood and plant-based foods that are also great sources of calcium. These include shrimp, salmon, oysters, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, and figs.
Magnesium plays a crucial part in building strong teeth. It is beneficial for the remineralization of teeth, which can reverse tooth decay. In addition, magnesium aids the body in calcium absorption, making teeth harder and building up strong enamel. Sources rich in magnesium include leafy greens, cacao, and avocado.
Foods That Clean Your Teeth
Fibrous Fruits and Vegetables
Eating apples and other fibrous fruits and vegetables, like celery and carrots, help to clean your teeth as you are eating them. Biting into and chewing on the fibrous texture creates a scrubbing effect on your teeth and stimulates the gums to increase the flow of saliva and wash away any remaining food particles.
Carrots and celery are also great sources of beta carotene, a nutrient your body needs to produce vitamin A — an essential vitamin for building strong teeth.
Berries like blueberries, cranberries, and raspberries contain anthocyanins. Anthocyanins work to prevent the attachment and colonization of bacteria in the mouth, as well as other tissues in the body. There are also compounds in these fruits that hinder the bacteria-forming process leading to less plaque build-up and overall tooth decay.
Schedule a Dental Check-up Today
Now that you know which foods cause tooth decay and which foods actually provide benefits for your teeth, you can eat a teeth-healthy diet, and focus on maintaining your dental hygiene through other ways like your annual dentist appointment. Dean Dental Solutions is here to help you sustain good oral health and a bright healthy smile you can be proud of. Call us today at (501) 771- 3588 or contact us online to schedule a dental check-up.