15 Dec Food Friends and Foes for Your Teeth
What we eat and drink can positively and negatively affect our dental health. Certain foods – especially when consumed excessively – can weaken our teeth and contribute to tooth decay. Sometimes, the foods and drinks we consume contribute to bacterial overgrowth, which leads to the formation of plaque and tartar. Plaque and tartar contribute to tooth decay, enamel damage, and periodontal (gum) disease. Following are some helpful tips for protecting your oral health with solid dietary choices.
Unhealthy Foods and Drinks
Sugar and acid are some of the unhealthiest things we can consume. Starches and sugars serve as a source of food for oral bacteria – especially the harmful varieties that contribute to dental caries. As bacteria begin to feed on sugar, they will colonize and form acid as a by-product. Over time, an overgrowth of bacteria will affect oral pH and can increase the risk for issues like tooth decay, periodontal disease, and oral infections.
In addition to sugar, acids in foods and drinks are harmful to oral health. Acids are found in many natural foods like citrus and in many processed food and drinks as flavoring agents and preservatives. Like sugar consumption, acid does affect oral pH and repeated exposure to acid will soften tooth enamel. Since acid strips away minerals in tooth enamel, it can lead to decay and breakage since the softer structures under enamel are exposed to debris and bacteria.
While acid and sugar are found in many types of foods, there are abundant options for food and drinks that are not harmful to teeth and actually beneficial for oral health. Lean proteins and vegetables are ideal because they present many overall health benefits including a strong immune system that can help fight off oral infection. Vegetables like leafy greens contain important minerals and vitamins that help keep all the body’s systems healthy. Moreover, drinking water throughout the day is imperative to maintaining a healthy oral pH and rinsing away food particles that collect on the surfaces of teeth.
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