John Skvorak Jr DMD
Eating Habits Affect your Teeth
Your oral health plays a major role in your overall health. Specifically, your teeth affect your overall well being more than you probably realize. Your teeth are important for talking, self-confidence, and of course eating. Additionally, a tooth infection can spread beyond your teeth and affect other parts of your body if left untreated. Keeping your teeth healthy through prevention is the best method and eating right is an essential aspect of prevention.
We recommend our patients maintain a diet that is low in sugar. Sugar feeds the bacteria that causes cavities. The bacteria create acid on your tooth surface when they digest that sugar. Repeated or prolonged exposure of acid to your tooth surface eventually leads to a cavity. The bacteria cannot stockpile sugar, so if you limit sugar
consumption - especially the frequency of sugar consumption - and you clean your teeth regularly, it is far less likely that you will develop a cavity.
If you are like us and you have a little bit of a sweet tooth, it's okay to get a sugar fix every now and then. The key to minimizing your risk for cavities when consuming sugar is to minimize the time of exposure. What we mean by this is it is important to reduce the amount of time that you are exposing your teeth to sugar. Eating, especially sugary foods, leads to increased acidity of your mouth. An acidic environment favors cavity formation. Your saliva buffers the pH of your mouth back towards a neutral pH typically within 20 minutes of eating something sugary. But if you consume sugar every 10 or 20 minutes, your saliva is constantly attempting to buffer the pH of your mouth without success. Have your sugar all at once during a meal time to decrease your risk for developing a cavity. Don't snack on foods or sip drinks that are bad for repeatedly throughout the day.
The consistency or texture of foods also plays a big role in whether those foods are good for your teeth or not. Retentive foods, that are soft or sticky, are not good for your teeth. The reason is that these foods tend to stay on your teeth for a long time after you are done eating them. This provides cavity causing bacteria with a continual source of sugar. Additionally, it makes it hard for your saliva to help buffer your mouth back to neutral since that sugar source is sticking around.
Things like bread, crackers, cake, cookies, brownies, sugary gum, hard candies, and chewy candies such as starbursts, skittles, or gummies are all examples of foods that have potential to be very harmful to your teeth.
It's also important to consider that drinking sugary or acidic beverages can contribute to an environment that favors cavity formation. Avoid drinking soda, juice, coffee, and tea all day long. It is best to enjoy these beverages at a meal time if you are going to consume them. Don't sip them over the course of the day; drink them all within one sitting.
Snacks that are good for your body and your teeth include items like: pretzels, cheese, yogurt, raw fruits and vegetables, popcorn and nuts. Another good idea to help prevent decay and nourish your body is to drink water between meal times. Water helps to rinse any food residue from your teeth and allows your saliva to return the pH of your mouth back towards neutral.
And as always, make sure you brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day to keep your mouth healthy!
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