You are constantly told what you should and shouldn’t eat, for a variety of reasons. Something many modern adults overlook is how diet affects tooth health. Tooth decay is one of the two most common diseases in the world, and simple diet adjustments can completely prevent it, provided you still brush those pearly whites regularly. The good news is that foods that are good for your teeth are good for the rest of you as well. Here’s the breakdown.
Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth break down fermentable sugars and raise acid levels in the mouth. Those acids dissolve the minerals that keep enamel strong. Now, the body has ways of naturally strengthening tooth enamel, so the real danger occurs when the minerals are dissolving faster than they are being replaced. This means your diet affects the health of your teeth in two ways at the same time. You want to focus on foods that reduce acidity and provide necessary minerals to hit both targets.
The first step is understanding what foods are fermentable. Essentially, anything that naturally contains sugar is on the list. Candies, sweetened drinks and desserts are the main culprits, but you also need to limit how much you eat white breads, crackers, breakfast cereals and bananas. This doesn’t mean you can’t have these foods in your diet at all, but you want to follow them with a good brushing when you can. When you can’t, there are other foods that can help.
Increasing saliva production after eating a sweet can help dissolve and flush away the acids that are produced. So, if you follow one of the bad foods on the list with aged cheese, lean meats, beans or nuts, your mouth will naturally protect itself from the acid. Drinking water, unsweetened tea or other sugarless beverages can also help, but you want to avoid acidic drinks like sodas, even if they’re sugar-free.
It turns out that whole grains, low sugar intake and lean protein sources are as good for your teeth as they are for the rest of your body. Keep to a generally healthy diet, brush your teeth regularly, and control your snacking with good foods and you can look forward to strong, healthy teeth for years to come.