The Best – and Worst – Foods for Your Teeth
We all know that regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing are essential for keeping your teeth healthy and your smile bright. Along with regular dental care, a solid regimen of oral hygiene is essential for maintaining your pearly whites. But, what you might not know is that your diet can have a huge impact on oral health. Aside from the things you might expect, such as coffee and red wine, there are a host of other foods and drinks that you may want to avoid to make sure your beautiful smile lasts for years to come. Plus, some foods and drinks can actually help to whiten your teeth and make your mouth and gums healthier.
So, courtesy of The Bondi Dentists, let’s have a look at the do’s and don’ts of diet for a happy, healthy mouth. First of all, how do the things you eat affect your teeth? To break it down, many of the things we consume are either acidic or have a significant amount of sugar. Sugary foods and drinks invite the growth of bacteria, which then produce acidic compounds as they break the sugary residue down. Acidic compounds tend to attack the teeth and erode the outer layer of enamel. Regular loss of enamel will make the teeth more susceptible to cavities and expose the inner layers. This means that your teeth are more likely to become sensitive, and they tend to darken in colour as the dentine layers begin to show through the enamel.
With this in mind, it should be no surprise that the first things on the “don’t” list are foods and drinks with loads of sugar – or those with added sugar – and highly acidic foods. One of the big culprits here is citrus fruits. Clearly, fruit is good for us, but if you overdo it with these highly acidic fruits, you they might do a bit more harm than good. You’ll also want to avoid very sticky and chewy foods, as they tend to linger in your teeth and encourage bacteria growth. Regular snacking is also a no-no, as it tends to keep food residue around the teeth without giving your mouth sufficient time to wash the teeth clean. So, if you do snack, try to give yourself a couple of hours between moments of indulgence so your mouth’s natural processes can keep ahead of bacterial activity.
So, to recap, here are the main foods and drinks to watch out for:
- Anything highly acidic
- Anything with high sugar content
- Foods that are chewy or sticky
- Fruit juices (I know, this one’s a bit counterintuitive, but they can be both acidic and loaded with sugar)
- Sports drinks and sodas
- Kombucha (This is another surprise element of the list, as kombucha is marketed for the benefits it provides to health. But, while it has loads of other health benefits, the sugars and acids in it are not the best for healthy teeth and gums.)
So, now that we’ve covered the don’ts, what about the do’s? This is where things get a bit more fun. There are actually several foods you can eat that will boost oral health and reduce the need for cosmetic dentistry in the years to come. And, once again, there are some surprises here.
First of all, the best drink for your teeth is water. But, it’s not the only thing you can enjoy. Plain milk is also beneficial, as it has loads of calcium, though it helps to rinse afterwards due to its sugar content. And, believe it or not, tea and coffee – without sugar – are in the ok range. Though, it you take it overboard, you’ll tend to stain the teeth. Keep it moderate, though, and they are less detrimental than sodas and juices.
Another hugely beneficial class of foods are the crunchy ones. Think celery, rather than potato chips. Crunchy, water-rich foods aid in the production of saliva. And, believe it or not, saliva is your mouth’s first line of defence. It contains loads of minerals and proteins that balance out acids, fight germs, and help to prevent bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay. Chewing sugar-free gum can be helpful in stimulating saliva production as well. And, a last surprising entry – hard cheeses. Just like mild, hard cheeses contain plenty of calcium and aid in the formation of strong teeth and bones.
At The Bondi Dentists, we know that no one’s perfect, and we don’t expect you to give up cake or your morning juice. If your favourite snacks didn’t make the cut, there are a few things you can do to offset their effects. The first and most important key is to brush and floss twice a day. But, after snacking or enjoying a favourite soft drink, don’t rush for the brush right away. This can actually make things worse, as you will abrade the teeth when your mouth is in an acidic state. So, give a proper rinse with water. Then, give your mouth some time to produce saliva naturally, at least a good half hour before you brush. Aside from that, there’s no need to be a saint. Just keep things moderate and your smile will thank you for it.
If you’d like to know more about oral care or look into what you need for happy, healthy teeth and gums, feel free to contact us. At Bondi Dentists, we know how important your smile is to you, and we’re here to make sure it’s the best it can be.