Just like our bodies, our teeth need a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals to remain in good shape. The food we ingest changes the environment within our mouths, which can have both positive and negative effects, depending on what we’re consuming.
Here are some frequently asked questions about nutrition and our teeth, and some tips on how to make your diet benefit your oral health
How does sugar lead to tooth decay?
We’ve all heard that sugar is bad for our teeth, but why?
Over time, bacteria builds up on our teeth forming dental plaque. These bacteria uses the sugars in our diet to feed and grow. In the process, they produce an acid that lowers the pH in our mouths. If the pH remains too low for a prolonged period of time, the acid will begin to soften the enamel and lead to tooth decay.
It's important to become aware of your sugar intake. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Avoid sugary foods that remain in the mouth for a long period of time, such as hard candies or sticky toffees.
- Pay attention to the FREQUENCY of sugar consumption and try to cut this back. Be especially aware of how often you’re consuming sugary or carbonated drinks.
- Limit snacking. If you do snack, opt for something healthy like fruits, vegetables and nuts.
- Be aware of foods that market themselves as healthy but have high concentrations of sugar. Many foods labelled “low-fat” are guilty of this, as well as fruit juices.
Which foods are good for my teeth?
Thankfully, there’s plenty of food out there that benefits your oral health. Incorporating these into your diet can prevent tooth decay and sometimes even repair early damage.
Foods high in calcium such as cow’s milk, cheese, yoghurt and other dairy products help by strengthening the enamel on the outside of our teeth. Non-dairy options include legumes, leafy greens, and fortified products such as tofu, cereals and non-dairy milk.
Healthy, crunchy foods
Foods such as raw carrot, celery and apples can benefit your teeth in many ways. Not only are they full of essential vitamins but chewing on crunchy foods such as these increases saliva production, helping fight tooth decay.
Foods containing fluoride
Fluoride is incredibly effective at preventing tooth decay. It is able to become a part of the tooth’s structure by forming fluorapatite. This limits the amount of acid released by bacteria in the plaque, as well as altering the effect of such acid.
In Australia, fluoride is found in our tap water. It is also present in seafood, black tea, spinach, grapes and raisins.
Further advice for healthy teeth
Having a balanced diet is essential for the health of your teeth. To be effective, however, it must be combined with a good brushing and flossing routine and regular trips to your dentist.
If you have any questions about how your diet is impacting your oral health, ask your dentist at your next appointment or contact Chatswood Dental Care on (02) 9412 2295