Your enamel is all that lies between your dental health and tooth decay, and plaque causes the acidity that breaks it down. Your mouth is home to hundreds of bacteria, even after you brush, but your body has several ways of keeping your teeth protected. Your saliva breaks down plaque, but food and drinks encourage its formation. Alcohol, sugar, and bread are plaque’s chief instigators, and the longer they stay in your mouth, the more damage they cause. Fortunately, you can pack new power into your dental health regimen with a few changes to your eating habits.
Snacking and Your Health
Your teeth’s first defense lies in what you eat. Brushing protects your enamel from plaque by clearing it of the sugars and acids that break it down. When you eat between meals, your teeth become exposed to plaque for several hours. Using a mouthwash or even a water rinse can prevent damage by removing debris. Saliva’s protective powers can be enhanced by staying hydrated.
Sugars, acids, and starch cause plaque, and sticky snacks coat the teeth for longer. Sugary foods are thus best left for dessert prior to brushing. Between meals, unbuttered popcorn, baked tortilla chips, and low salt pretzels are safer grains. Meat, nuts, and seeds are less likely to damage enamel. Low-fat dairy such as yogurt and skim milk are preferable to sodas, while high-fiber foods will improve saliva flow.
Xylitol boosts dental health by reducing the bacteria that cause decay, so sugar-free gum is an excellent addition to your dental health habits.
Drinking and Decay
Drinking eight glasses of water a day will keep your enamel in good condition, but drinks with added sugar will wear down your pearly whites. Acidic sodas, even those that are sugar-free, are too acidic for teeth. Coffee dries the mouth and attacks enamel simultaneously, while alcohol’s acids and sugars contribute to the formation of plaque. They also cause gum disease, which eventually leads to tooth loss. Drinking through a straw can help to keep offending drinks away from your teeth, but the only perfect fluid is pH-neutral and sugar-free. Milk can raise your pH levels, weakening acids after meals. Green and black tea can stain your teeth, but it also inhibits bacteria, preventing plaque buildup. A daily cup of tea raises antioxidants and treats gum inflammation, reducing your odds of losing your teeth. Low-sugar vegetable juice is usually less acidic than fruit juices, and if you must drink carbonated drinks, club soda is less acidic than sugar-free colas.
Your mouth is healthiest when alkaline. Foods with a low pH level bring down bone resorption while preventing calcium-release. More directly, alkalines reduce bacteria, thereby reducing tooth decay and gum disease. Decay occurs when the pH level of the mouth falls below 5.5, with neutral levels being 7.0. Your foods aren’t the only way to sustain a healthy amount of alkalinity. Healthy kidneys assist, so look after them by drinking enough water every day. Asthma and emphysema set your pH off-balance, so take care of your lungs and stay away from tobacco. Metabolic acidosis can also be caused by large doses of aspirin and ketone build-up, caused by lack of insulin. If you have diabetes, your health maintenance will support your dental health.
Everything you eat and drink has an effect, not only on your teeth but your body, too. Fortunately, foods that are good for the body are usually good for the teeth. Keep your snacks and sugared drinks to a minimum, and your smile will reward you. Oso Marguerite Dental’s comprehensive dental cleanings and exams are part of basic oral care and the easiest way to keep your mouth healthy and your smile looking it’s very best.