Your dietary habits play a huge role in how you manage your oral health. What you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat affects not just your general health, but also how well maintained your teeth and gums are.
Relationship Between Sugars and Tooth Decay
Our diet can impact our oral health because what we eat leads to the formation of dental cavities as well as enamel erosion. Foods that contain any kind of sugar can easily lead to an increase in tooth decay through cavities. This happens when plaque, a layer of sticky bacteria, interacts with the sugars that are found in what we consume.
By not cleaning our teeth properly after we eat, we allow for plaque to interact with the sugars in the food to produce acids. These acids destroy the enamel of the teeth, which is the hard, thin outer layer of the tooth. The damage caused on the tooth when these acids attack them is called dental erosion. This erosion leads to tooth decay and eventually cavities.
Plaque also creates other substances that make the gums irritable, sensitive, red, and more prone to bleeding. This usually leads to gum disease when the gum tissues pull away from the teeth and leaves huge gaps for bacteria and pus to collect in. Gum diseases are the leading cause of loss of tooth in adults. When not treated, these infected gums could destroy the bone around the teeth and also lead to the extraction of the affected tooth.
Food and Beverages That Affect Your Oral Health
You should not remove all sugar from your diet as some forms of sugars are nutritionally required for your general well-being. All kinds of food like dairy, cereal, bread, fruits, and vegetables do have some forms of sugar in them. In order to protect your oral health from the sugars in your food, you need to be moderate and control the amount of sugar you eat.
The first thing you need to do when watching your sugar intake is to carefully read the nutrition labels on food items and try eat those that are low on added sugars. Avoid food items with added sugars such as soft drinks, candy, cookies, and pastries. Next, you have to be moderate and careful when eating foods from the following food groups mentioned below.
The sugar in candy and gums are very harmful to your dental health. The sugars from these food items simply stick on your teeth, and lead to cavities forming much faster. Foods heavy in refined carbohydrates such as chips, pasta, and bread could affect your teeth as much as candy would. Bacteria could feed on the food particles that remain in your mouth and cause tooth decay.
Sticky, chewy food like raisins, jelly beans, caramel, honey, syrup, and granola bars tend to stick to your teeth. The saliva in your mouth can’t wash away these sugars as easily. When you don’t wash your mouth properly after eating these foods, these sugars stay stuck on your teeth and contribute to even more tooth decay.
Carbonated drinks not only have a lot of sugar, but also contain carbonation and phosphoric acid that tends to wear away the enamel layer on the teeth. This in turn leads to further decay. Fruit and vegetable juices also tend to be high in sugar and lead to decay.
Sport drinks tend to have acidic levels close to that of soft drinks, making them a high contributor to tooth decay as well. The more acidic the drink, the more it leads to dental erosion. There are many other food and beverages that contain acidic substances which subsequently lead to dental erosion. Fruits like lemon contain citric and malic acid. Lactic acid can be found in fermented items like yogurt. Tartaric acid in grapes and wines can also lead to dental erosion.
Your teeth gets affected more when you eat very often and keep the food in your mouth longer. Therefore, watch what you eat and consume in moderation for better oral health. Also be sure to keep your mouth clean between meals to reduce the chance of erosion and ultimately tooth decay.