Dental Health and Your Diet
Is sugar truly bad for your teeth?
You hear, “One of the worst things you can do to your teeth is sip on a soda or other sugary beverage over a long period of time (the same is true for snacking on sweets)”; but is it true? Well, let’s talk about the tooth decaying process. All around your mouth is saliva, containing natural bacteria assisting your teeth in the start of the digestion process. When sugar enters the mouth, this bacteria begins to break it down and what is the result? Acid. When this acid forms, the outer hard shell of your tooth called “Enamel” starts getting worn down by the acid eating away at the bone. The more and more this happens, the more yellow, sensitive, and soft a tooth becomes.
Does sugar only come from soda and candy?
There is a lot of sugar in candy and soda but it is important to be aware of all the sources of sugar that are out there. It is not just everything sweet, but anything that is broken down into sugar like bread, rice, crackers, and other carbohydrates. Cutting down your sugar intake is good for cavity prevention, as well as your general health. Limit your snacking and avoid the sweet things as much as possible.
Another group of food that causes significant damage to tooth structure is acidic foods. If in frequent contact with teeth, things like limes, lemons, and grapefruits can cause serious, irreversible damage (erosion) to your teeth. But don’t just think of sour fruits. Many drinks are extremely acidic. Click here to see a comparison of drinks that can be harmful to your tooth enamel. Remember, this is not a complete list. If what you drink is similar to one of these listed, chances are, it is highly acidic, too. Below is a link to a comparison chart of sour candies. Take a look at how they compare to battery acid!!!
But what about when you really want a candy bar or an ice cold soda?
The best way to avoid cavities is to prevent the sugar from lingering around your teeth. If you want a sugary snack or beverage, it is recommended with, or immediately after, a meal, like as a dessert. Eating or drinking something sweet over an extended period of time creates a constant supply of sugar for the bacteria that cause tooth decay! After an episode of sugar consumption brushing your teeth, rinsing your mouth with a fluoride mouth wash, chewing sugarless gum, or even rinsing with water within 20 minutes can help. However, nothing has the effect of avoiding sugar!
Is there any kind of food that prevents tooth decay?
Well, not really. Chewing foods like apples and carrots may have some plaque removal effect, but they still contain some natural sugar. Cheese also has a plaque removal quality and contains calcium, a key element in tooth structure constantly needing to be replenished to fight the effects of decay. A specific, naturally occurring sweetener, xylitol, found in some foods, sugarless gum, and mints not only provides a source of sweetness that bacteria can not change into acid, but has also been proven to actually be bacteriocidal (kills the bacteria). Hence, it reduces your risk of decay! Click here for more information on Xylitol.