What you eat, and how often you eat foods that are unhealthy for your teeth, determine how likely you are to get cavities and other problems caused by bad diet, like bad breath and even gum disease. As you eat, your mouth begins the first stages of digestion. Healthy bacteria in your saliva convert sugars into acids – good for digestion, bad for your teeth. Plaque is one of the biggest enemies to your mouth, which forms when food particles are allowed to linger around your teeth and gums. This process begins the moment you begin to eat, which is why it is so important to brush and floss after every meal.
Once a tooth forms, it is subject to our oral environment. Diets consisting of high sugar, starch or acid content can all erode your enamel unless you are exceptionally good keeping up your oral hygiene (brushing and flossing after every meal). The health of gum and bone tissue that supports the teeth is greatly influenced by proper diet that contains nutrients to keep our body healthy.
What should you eat? Natural, organic and unrefined foods. These foods have high nutrient value and less sugar than processed food, and will pose a smaller threat to your teeth. The best food choices include dairy (like milk, cheese and yogurt) and poultry (like chicken and duck). These foods provide your teeth with calcium and phosphorus, which help to form enamel and bone. Crunchy natural foods like nuts and green leafy vegetables or orange-colored fruits will stimulate gum and saliva flow, a natural cavity fighter. These foods also contain beta carotene, which the body turns into vitamin C (essential for your body’s ability to maintain and repair healthy soft tissue). If you cannot eat fruits and vegetables naturally, taking a supplemental vitamin or drink which contains Vitamin C and other antioxidants will help protect your gums against cellular damage, and promote their healing abilities. Unsweetened tea is another great drink which has little impact on your mouth’s health.
Foods which contain high amounts of sugar (like candy and carbohydrate-laden foods like bread, chips, fries and muffins), natural or processed, are a tooth’s worst nightmare! The high sugar content of these foods help bacteria thrive. Breads and starches should be an occasional indulgence: when starches mix with amylase (a natural enzyme in your mouth), acid forms that erodes the enamel of your teeth. Additionally, dry foods like chips and cookies or even dried fruits have a tendency to stick to the surface of your teeth, which also helps bacteria thrive. Acidic sweetened beverages like sodas are the worst type of liquid to expose your teeth to, and can cause tooth erosion, enamel decay and even periodontitis – avoid soda and carbonated beverages at all costs! Artificial sweeteners can be a better alternative to sugar-sweetened drinks, as they do not feed bacteria like natural sugar.
Pregnant? Start right by eating right during pregnancy. Eating sensibly during pregnancy means getting adequate calcium (your body needs Vitamin D to absorb calcium) to form strong teeth and bone, which will give your child a good start also. Fluoride can also be used to prevent tooth decay.
So, eat more vegetables and fruits, avoid sugary foods and drinks, and remember to brush, floss and rinse your mouth (and tongue) after meals. You will be on the road to healthy, brilliant teeth!