Foods to Eat for Better Oral Health

The foods we eat certainly affect the health of our teeth and gums.  When talking about foods that affect the teeth, the first thing that comes to mind is sugar, but sugar isn’t the only food that is detrimental to oral health.  We’ll explain how other items can take their toll on enamel and gum health, and give you great alternatives for snack time.

Foods to Avoid

Let’s start with things you should avoid to maintain the highest level of dental health.  These foods can damage enamel, making you more likely to require dental treatment.

Avoid Sugar

We will start with the one that everyone knows.  Sugar.  And by sugar, we don’t mean sweets alone.  “Sugar” includes all simple carbohydrates, so we will lump chips, crackers, and bread into this category with candy, cookies, cakes, and other sweets.

The cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth must have simple carbohydrates in order to cause cavities.  It is their source of fuel.  By avoiding sugars, you can reduce your risk of cavities.

Avoid Acid

Acidic foods, like citrus fruits, can also damage the enamel of teeth.  Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, and its biggest enemy is acid.  Acid slowly etches, weakens and dissolves enamel, just as acid can destroy glass.

Diets that are high in acidic content will place the teeth at risk for enamel erosion.  Erosion thins the enamel layer, making it weaker and more susceptible to problems of all kinds: cavities, sensitivity, and cracking.

Avoid Acid Reflux Triggers

The strongest acid in the human body is in the stomach, and it can make its way into the mouth through the medical condition acid reflux or GERD.  Those who suffer from continual acid reflux constantly have stomach acid in the mouth, which causes severe damage to the teeth through erosion.

If you suffer from acid reflux or GERD, and you know which foods trigger it, you should make every effort to avoid those foods.  Enamel lost to acid erosion will not regrow on its own.  You must replace it with dental restorations.

Foods to Snack

The most important food choices (for your teeth) are those you make between meals.  During a meal, your body produces a large amount of saliva, which counteracts the effects of sugars and acid.  Between meals, you do not have that protective effect of saliva, so the teeth are at a higher risk for damage.  That’s why we recommend choosing good snacks like those listed here.

Add Raw Veggies

Yes, most veggies are carbohydrates, but they are complex carbohydrates.  Unlike simple carbohydrates, which bacteria can quickly digest to make cavities on the teeth, complex carbs take much longer.  The bacteria can make cavities from complex carbs, but only if they remain in contact for quite some time.  Those with a consistent oral hygiene routine would not suffer an increased cavity risk from snacking on complex carbohydrates.

Raw veggies also have a gentle cleansing ability that most other foods do not.  Biting into raw carrots and celery can actually clean plaque away from various areas of the teeth!

Add Proteins and Fat

The cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth do not digest proteins and fats, so these foods are safe!  We highly recommend choosing snacks with protein and fat as healthy choices for those times between meals.

The best and simplest options are nuts and cheese.  Imagine a charcuterie board without the crackers and fruit.  Cured meats, nuts and cheeses make wonderful, filling snacks that will not damage your teeth.

More Questions about Healthy Food Choices for Your Teeth?

Call Timberlake Dental today at 940-382-1750 to schedule a visit with Dr. Chowning or one of our wonderful dental hygienists.  We can answer any question you have about your diet and how it affects the health of your mouth.

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