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Foods that harm vs. foods that help your teeth

Your mouth is more than just a gateway for delicious flavours! It’s the first stage of digestion where your teeth break your food into manageable pieces. This lets your saliva get a headstart on breaking down carbohydrates, ready for absorption. The foods we introduce to this remarkable process play a major role determining our oral health and overall well-being. Are our dietary choices nourishing our smiles, or doing dental damage?

Foods that sabotage our teeth

High-sugar foods: When you consume sugary treats like lollies, cookies and cakes, you’re basically providing a feast for the more aggressive varieties of bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria thrive on sugar, and as they metabolise it, they produce acids as byproducts. These acids then attack the enamel, the protective outer layer of your teeth, leading to its erosion over time. With repeated acid attacks, the enamel weakens, eventually resulting in the formation of cavities.

Sticky treats: Stickier types of sweets, such caramels and toffees, pose an even greater risk to oral health. Their sticky texture allows them to cling to the surfaces and crevices of your teeth, prolonging their contact with tooth enamel. This extended exposure to sugar creates an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive and produce acids, accelerating the process of enamel erosion and increasing the likelihood of cavities.

Acidic drinks: Soft drinks are high in sugar and contain phosphoric and citric acids. These acids can directly attack tooth enamel, weakening it and making it more susceptible to decay. Additionally, the carbonation in fizzy drinks increases acidity levels in the mouth, further contributing to enamel erosion and dental erosion over time.

Citrus fruits: While citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits are rich in vitamin C, their high acidity can harm oral health. The citric acid in these fruits can weaken tooth enamel, especially when consumed frequently or in large quantities. It’s important to enjoy citrous fruits in moderation and rinse your mouth with water afterwards to help neutralise acids and minimise their erosive effects on teeth.

good food options

Dried fruits: Although dried fruits are often considered a healthy snack, they can be problematic for oral health. Dried fruits, such as raisins and apricots, are sticky and high in natural sugars, which can adhere to the teeth and fuel bacterial growth. Additionally, the concentrated sugars in dried fruits can contribute to acid production in the mouth, increasing the risk of enamel erosion and cavities.

Alcohol: Alcohol consumption can have negative effects on oral health. Alcoholic beverages, especially those with high sugar content like cocktails and sweet wines, can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, alcohol can cause dry mouth, reducing saliva production and compromising the mouth’s natural ability to neutralise acids and wash away food particles.

Sports drinks: While sports drinks are often consumed to replenish electrolytes during physical activity, they can have detrimental effects on oral health. Sports drinks often contain high levels of sugar and acidic additives, which can erode tooth enamel and increase the risk of cavities. Regular consumption of sports drinks, especially without adequate oral hygiene practices, can lead to dental erosion and other oral health problems.

Ice (when chewed): Ice is essentially water, and water is beneficial for us, but chewing on ice can be quite damaging to your teeth. Ice is extremely hard and can cause microscopic cracks in tooth enamel, weakening the tooth structure over time. Additionally, chewing on ice can irritate the soft tissues in the mouth and increase the risk of dental emergencies, such as chipped or fractured teeth. It’s best to avoid chewing on ice to protect your oral health.

Foods that support our teeth

Leafy greens: Leafy greens like kale and spinach are nutritional powerhouses, packed with vitamins and minerals essential for oral health. In addition to being rich in calcium, they also contain vitamin K, which plays a role in bone metabolism and may support tooth remineralisation. Including leafy greens in your diet can provide valuable nutrients that promote strong, healthy teeth and gums.

Calcium-rich foods: Calcium is essential for maintaining strong teeth and bones, and dairy products like cheese, milk, and yoghurt are excellent sources of this mineral. Calcium helps remineralise and strengthen tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay. Cheese, in particular, stimulates saliva production, which helps neutralise acids and protect against cavities. Including calcium-rich foods in your diet can significantly contribute to better oral health.

Foods that harm vs. foods that help your teeth

Fibre-rich foods: Crunchy fruits and vegetables, such as apples, carrots, and celery, are not only nutritious but also beneficial for oral health. Their crunchy texture helps mechanically remove plaque and food particles from the teeth, acting as natural cleaners. Additionally, these foods stimulate saliva flow, which helps wash away debris and neutralise acids in the mouth. Regular consumption of fibre-rich fruits and vegetables can promote a cleaner, healthier mouth and reduce the risk of cavities and gum disease.

Water: Water is essential for maintaining good oral health. Drinking water helps rinse away food particles, bacteria and acids from the mouth, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, staying hydrated promotes saliva production, crucial for buffering acids, remineralising enamel, and maintaining a healthy oral environment. Making water your beverage of choice and staying hydrated throughout the day can significantly benefit your oral health.

Dark Chocolate (70% cacao): Dark chocolate, especially with at least 70% cacao, contains compounds that hinder bacteria growth, reducing plaque formation and the risk of cavities. Consuming dark chocolate in moderation, particularly varieties with minimal added sugars can promote oral health.

Green and Black Tea (unsweetened): Unsweetened green and black teas are rich in polyphenols, including catechins and flavonoids, which combat oral bacteria and inhibit plaque formation. Drinking black tea can neutralise bad breath, while green tea catechins target bacteria associated with gum disease.

Probiotics: Probiotics found in fermented foods like yoghurt and kefir help maintain a healthy oral microbiome, reducing the risk of cavities and gum disease. These beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, inhibit harmful bacteria growth, supporting overall oral health when part of a balanced diet.

Salmon: Packed with omega-3 fatty acids, salmon helps reduce inflammation in the gums and supports overall gum health. It’s also a great source of vitamin D, aiding calcium absorption for strong teeth and bones. The protein in salmon aids in tissue repair, essential for healthy gums, while its phosphorus content strengthens enamel, protecting against cavities and decay.

Fluoridated water & foods: Fluoride is essential for oral health as it strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent cavities. Consuming fluoridated water and foods naturally containing fluoride, like seafood and tea, supports enamel remineralisation and reduces the risk of tooth decay.

Nourishing your smile inside and out

Eating a healthy diet lowers your likelihood of health issues and alleviates their impact while powerfully enhancing your overall well-being. With a balanced diet, you’ll discover increased energy for your daily tasks, improved digestion, better sleep and, more than likely, better moods and mental stability.

While smart food choices are important in your oral healthcare strategy, they are not the complete solution. Remember to design your diet to protect your teeth, while also maintaining the comprehensive oral hygiene practices which are right for you. Talk with Dental Crafted about your particular concerns and always follow your dentist’s advice to ensure a lifetime of healthy smiles.

Foods that harm vs. foods that help your teeth