Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 23-08-2023
Everyone knows they need to take care of their teeth by brushing twice a day and flossing once daily. Hopefully, you’re also visiting Milltown Dental for your regular checkup every six months!
However, you need more than a thorough dental hygiene routine to maintain a healthy mouth and teeth; you must also eat right.
Diet plays a significant role in our oral health. What we choose to eat (and what we decide to avoid) can make the difference between a mouthful of cavities and two rows of healthy teeth.
To help you make the best decisions possible, we will explain in this article exactly how diet affects your oral health and what you can do to maintain a healthy smile.
Diet and Tooth Decay
The foods you eat and the beverages you drink have a significant impact on your oral health. Tooth decay is often a result of a bad diet, especially when paired with poor dental hygiene. If you want a bright, healthy smile free of cavities and other health issues, you need to brush twice a day, floss once daily, visit your dentist at Milltown Dental regularly, and be mindful of what you eat.
If you consume a lot of sugary foods and beverages, you are more likely to develop cavities. Highly acidic foods can also spur the development of tooth decay. Why is this so?
Your mouth is naturally full of bacteria. These bacteria feed on the sugar in your food and produce acid, which erodes tooth enamel and causes cavities. Foods that are high in carbohydrates can break down into simple sugars that also feed the bacteria.
Highly acid foods and beverages, like fruit juices, lemons, wine, and tea, also cause dental erosion by eating away at the enamel.
Sticky, sweet foods are particularly problematic for your oral health. These foods get stuck to the surface of your teeth, as well as in between teeth. Since they can be hard to remove from brushing alone, they can foster the development of cavities.
When you eat is important, too. Eating something sweet with a meal is better for your oral health because the increased flow of saliva dilutes sugar and washes it away. This helps protect your teeth. Additionally, you can mitigate the effect of sugary food by drinking water immediately afterward. Just like your saliva, the water rinses the mouth of sugars.
How Snacking Impacts Your Dental Health
You should minimize snacking as much as possible for the sake of your oral health. The mouth produces more saliva during meal times that helps wash away sugar, acid, and food residue, thereby protecting your teeth. Frequent snacking can lead to the accumulation of food debris in the mouth and accelerate the buildup of plaque.
If you snack, do so with healthy foods and drink water afterward. Unfortunately, many people gravitate towards sweet snacks that put them at risk for cavities and other dental health problems.
You should never consume sugary foods and beverages for a snack. The food particles will settle between and stick to your teeth, encouraging bacteria to grow and potentially causing cavities.
Instead of choosing a bag of chips, cookies, candy, or other sweet treats as a midday pick-me-up, opt for something healthy and nutritious. Vegetables, nuts, yogurt, and whole grains are far better options. Even fruit is a great snack since it contains helpful dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals that promote oral health.
Why You Should Stick to Water
When thirsty, you should always drink water. Not only is drinking water beneficial for your overall health, but it’s also best for your mouth. Water quenches your thirst, washes away food debris, and will not harm your teeth in the process.
Sugary drinks, just like sugary snacks, feed the mouth’s bacteria, producing acid and wearing down tooth enamel. Carbonated soft drinks contain high amounts of cavity-causing sugar and harmful acids. Diet pop drinks are just as bad!
Similarly, sports and energy drinks are acidic and high in sugar. The same goes for alcohol.
You should also avoid fruit juices in most cases. All fruit juices are high in sugar but lack the dietary fibre of whole fruits. Plus, store-bought juices often have even more sugar added to them. The result is an exceptionally sugary and acidic beverage that is bad for your teeth.
Food and Drinks to Avoid for Healthy Teeth
The following food and beverage items contribute to poor oral health. Removing them from your diet may seem impossible; however, you can see massive benefits from practising moderation. Quantity also matters. Adding some lemon juice to your water is not the same as eating a candy bar.
Take a look at the following foods and drinks you should minimize or avoid including in your diet:
Sugary foods: Candy, cookies, cakes, regular gum, and other sweet treats.
Chewy, sticky foods: Granola bars, jellybeans, caramel, honey, and raisins.
Fruit drinks: Fruit juices, especially those with added sugar.
Carbonated soft drinks: Both regular and diet pop.
Acidic food and beverages: Fruit juices, tea, lemons, pickles, and alcohol.
Sports and energy drinks
If you are going to make just one change, it should be reducing the presence of sugar in your diet.
Eating Tips for Optimal Oral Health
Now that we’ve covered what to avoid, let’s look at some healthy eating tips that will help you take care of your smile for decades to come.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables: Raw fruits and vegetables are great for your overall health and your oral health. They discourage bacteria from sticking to your teeth and are high in dietary fibre, which stimulates saliva production. Fruits are also high in water.
Choose healthy snacks: Snacks should be low in sugar and high in nutrition. For example, apples, raw vegetables, nuts and seeds, hummus, whole grain bread, plain yogurt, hard cheese, and hard boiled eggs.
Vitamin and mineral-rich foods: Getting enough vitamins and minerals helps maintain your oral health and promote a robust immune system.
Leafy green vegetables, milk, cheese, and yogurt are high in calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones. Fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods contain vitamin D, which helps build strong bones and teeth.
You also need iron, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin K, zinc, magnesium, and potassium.
Drink plenty of water: Water not only keeps you hydrated, but also rinses away food particles and sugars trapped in your teeth.
Looking for a Dentist in Milton, Ontario? Contact Milltown Dental!
Taking care of your mouth is a full-time job. Luckily, we’re here to help. Our experienced team of dentists in Milton is ready to welcome you into Milltown Dental.