The Optimal Diet for Tooth Health
4 min read
Without proper care, cavities develop at an early age and continue throughout your life.
Cavities are tiny holes in the teeth that develop when bacteria, food debris, and acid are not removed.
These substances combine to form plaque, and plaque dissolves the healthy enamel.
While good at-home oral hygiene does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to your oral health, it is not always enough if a poor diet is being followed.
Diet does not only affect the health of your internal organs and physical self. It also plays a significant role in the health of your mouth.
What Foods Hurt My Teeth?
Many people do not realize how much their nutrition is tied to their oral health. When it comes to your teeth, there are two main things to steer clear of: sugar and acid.
The more sugar and acid you have in your diet, the higher the chance you will experience erosion of the tooth enamel or gum disease.
It should not be a surprise that soda tops the list for harmful drinks. Soda contains large amounts of sugar, and they are highly acidic. With every sip of soda, your teeth experience repeated acid attacks.
Soda contains citric and phosphoric acid. These acids erode enamel and are more harmful than high sugar levels. Also, sodas stain your teeth due to their artificial coloring and have zero nutritional benefit.
Much like soda, candy contains sugar that sticks to your teeth and causes cavities. If the sugar was not enough, many chewy or sticky candies remain as a coating on the teeth, allowing the bacteria in your mouth to turn these sugars into acid and then into plaque.
Fruit Juice or Lemonade
Berry fruit juices are loaded with sugar. Citrus juices are high in sugar and are acidic. Lemon and grapefruit juice lead the charge of the most acidic foods, and even though these provide excellent levels of vitamin C, they can erode tooth enamel over time.
Some men and women choose sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade as an alternative to soda. Unfortunately, these drinks—similar to soda—are very acidic, and therefore put your teeth at risk of erosion.
Crackers and White Bread
Crackers and white bread contain refined carbohydrates that get converted to sugar. These foods are also sticky and become a mush-like paste when they are chewed.
This allows the bread and crackers to get lodged between teeth, where they tend to stay throughout the day, allowing bacteria plenty of time to turn the sugar into cavity-developing plaque.
What Food Makes My Teeth Stronger?
Just as there are bad foods for your mouth, there are also good foods for your mouth.
Cheese is not only packed with calcium and protein—two things that strengthen tooth enamel—but it contains properties that lower acid levels in the mouth by raising the pH.
This neutralization reduces the risk of tooth decay.
Additional dairy, like milk or yogurt, acts similarly to cheese and is beneficial to your diet.
Note: Yogurt can be packed with large amounts of hidden sugars. Choose a yogurt that has no added sugars.
Leafy greens, like spinach or kale, are full of vitamins and minerals that promote oral health and builds enamel. They also contain folic acid—a vitamin that has shown to prevent gum disease.
The act of chewing leafy greens also acts as a deep scrub of the tooth’s surface.
Even though apples contain sugar, they also contain fiber and water, which increases saliva and rinses the bacteria from your mouth.
Vegetables like carrots and celery are good sources of vitamins, and celery is known to scrape food particles from the teeth.
Water is essential to an optimal tooth diet. Water contains zero sugar, zero acids, and like saliva, washes sugars and acids off of the teeth.
This drink not only cleans the mouth, but it also protects against tooth erosion since it contains fluoride.
How Can I Improve My Dental Health?
Following a healthy diet can significantly improve your dental health.
While it is difficult to avoid the “bad foods” entirely, moderation is key.
It is recommended that people brush and floss after eating or drinking sugary or acidic foods. If you cannot do this, rinse your mouth with water to dilute the sugar content.
When a good diet is combined with proper at-home maintenance and routine check-ups, patients are on their way to a healthy mouth.