Best and Worse Foods For Your Teeth
Your teeth are important. For some people having a beautiful smile gives them the world of confidence. Others are happy just to have their teeth to be able to chew and eat the foods they love. Either way, the better we look after our teeth, the better they will look and the longer they will last.
Everyone knows it is important to take care of your teeth by brushing them, flossing them and getting them checked by your dentist. What is often overlooked is how important the food we eat and how we eat it can impact our teeth in both a positive and negative way. Following is a list of some of the most common foods that can have an impact on your oral health. Read ahead as some of the inclusions may surprise you.
The Good Guys
Water – Drinking plenty of water is essential in maintaining a healthy mouth. It aids in washing away loose bits of food and keeping the body/mouth hydrated enough to produce ample amounts of saliva.
Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables – these goodies help by really stimulating saliva flow. Saliva is your best natural defense against cavities and gum disease. These types of foods also have a high water content so help to naturally ‘wash’ the mouth out
Dairy Products – once again these are great stimulators of saliva. In addition dairy products (which are sugar free) contains important minerals such as calcium, vitamin D and phosphates, which are important in strengthening teeth. Dairy products such as cheese, milk, and yogurt are the best for a healthy mouth.
Sugar Free Gum – this is a great way to stimulate saliva flow after eating a meal. The stimulated saliva will clear away food remnants as well as help neutralise the effects of any acidic foods/drinks.
Green/Black Tea – these drinks contain polyphenols, which help by killing/suppressing bacteria. This helps in the prevention of plaque and tooth attacking acid.
The Bad Guys
Sticky sweats – it’s not just the sugar in sweets that is bad for your teeth. It’s how long the sugar is in contact with your teeth for. When choosing sweets it is therefore best to avoid sweats, which take a long, time to consume such as lollipops and caramels.
Carbonated drinks – these are the most common source of sugar for children and teenagers. Be careful as its not just fizzy drinks that you need to watch out for. Diet varieties as well as sports drinks and mineral waters often also contain a highly damaging mix of phosphoric and citric acid which is very detrimental to the health of teeth.
Starchy foods – these foods such as pasta, potato chips and bread easily get caught in the crevices in the teeth and are difficult to remove. If in place for long enough the starch can start converting into sugar.
Acidic food/drinks – citric acid is contained in many fruit juices and fruits and can be very damaging. While these fruits, such as oranges and lemons, are a healthy part of your diet they should be consumed in the correct way to minimise their damaging effect.
Dry mouth consumables – a side effect of alcohol and many medications is causing a dry mouth. You should realise by now how important saliva is in protecting your teeth. Reducing alcohol, changing medications or devising a scheme to over come the problems of dry mouth are important.
Do’s and Don’ts of Eating Habits
Do Drink more water – drinking water after a meal is a great way to ‘wash the mouth out’. It can also help produce more saliva after a meal to help neutralise the effects of an acidic meal.
Do limit snacking – your mouth produces most saliva while eating a meal. It is therefore best to try eating sweats at the same time as your main meal. At the same time cutting down on snacking between main meals also helps
Don’t crunch on ice – this is a common habit which often results in micro-fractures developing in a tooth or on occasion a complete crack in a tooth.
Do use a straw – this helps direct sweet/acidic drinks through to the back of the mouth quicker.
Don’t brush straight after an acidic meal – brushing after a meal is recommended. The exception is after having highly acidic foods or drinks. Wait at least 30 minutes and ideally drink some water to give the teeth a chance to remineralise before scrubbing away at them.
Hope this has helped. Happy brushings from all of us hear at the Brookwater Dental Team.