How Your Diet Affects The Condition Of Your Teeth
Many people believe they can consume any type of food or beverage they want without damaging their teeth as long as they brush and floss each day. In reality, your diet plays a major role in your oral health. The wrong foods and drinks can lead to severe decay. The right ones will help to ensure your teeth and gums remain clean and healthy.
In this article, we’ll explore diet and nutrition in the context of their effects on your teeth. You’ll learn how decay starts, beginning with the development of plaque and tartar. We’ll then present foods you should avoid as well as those you should add to your diet.
How Plaque And Tartar Form
Bacteria is always present in your mouth. Alone, they cause no harm to your teeth. However, when you eat foods or drink a beverage (besides water), the sugars and carbohydrates interact with the bacteria. The result is the formation of a sticky, translucent material known as plaque. It adheres to the surface of your teeth, but because it is colorless, usually goes unnoticed. This process occurs in less than half an hour.
Once plaque forms on a tooth, it immediately starts to damage the enamel. This is the reason brushing several hours after a meal is not enough. It will, however, remove the plaque from your teeth (assuming you brush properly). If plaque is allowed to remain unchecked, even for a single day, it hardens into a substance called tartar (or calculus).
Tartar serves as a platform for plaque. It provides the latter substance a place to which it can adhere more easily. As plaque continues to grow and damage the enamel of the tooth, a cavity forms. One of the dangers of tartar is that it cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone. Your dentist must remove it. But you can prevent it from forming in the first place by limiting the types of foods you eat.
Common Food Types To Avoid
Because the bacteria in your mouth interacts so quickly with sugars and carbohydrates, it’s a good idea to limit foods with these elements. For example, avoid potato chips, candy, raisins, and sugary cereals. Because bread is loaded with carbs, limit your consumption of it. This includes bagels, waffles, and sandwiches made with a substantial amount of bread.
A lot of people are surprised to learn which foods and beverages are high in sugar, and thus pose a danger to their teeth. Not only should you avoid candy and soft drinks, but also limit your intake of energy bars, Jell-O, and most fruit juices and sports drinks.
Which Foods And Beverages Are Good Choices?
Water is clearly a good beverage because it won’t contribute to plaque buildup. You should also fill your diet with foods that contain calcium and iron; both nutrients play an important role in maintaining good oral health. Calcium-rich foods include dairy products (e.g. milk, cheese, etc.), broccoli, salmon, spinach, and baked beans. Iron-rich foods include red meat, turkey, and most dark, leafy greens, such as romaine lettuce.
Vitamins are also important for maintaining healthy teeth – particularly vitamins C, B12, and D. Foods that are rich in vitamin C include oranges and bell peppers. Good sources of vitamin B12 are liver, eggs, and Swiss cheese. To take advantage of Vitamin D, add shrimp, salmon, and eggs to your diet.
A Few Last Tips For Maintaining Healthy Teeth
Staying away from foods and beverages that contain a lot of carbohydrates and sugars will go a long way toward preventing cavities. But there are many other steps you can take to keep your teeth as healthy as possible.
First, brush them at least twice a day, and floss them once a day. Second, make (and keep) regular appointments with your dentist. Third, drink a lot of water, not only as a beverage with meals but throughout the day to wash away food debris. And fourth, when considering snacks, choose those that are healthy, such as nuts and fruit.
Don’t underestimate the influence your diet and nutrition have on your teeth. Use the above guidelines to maintain good oral health.