Your body is an intricate system. Every food and beverage you consume affects your overall health. Since your mouth serves as the initial point of entry, it only makes sense that your diet and what you ingest impacts your mouth’s general health as well.
The average American diet includes starches, sugars, processed snacks, and highly acidic foods and drinks. These choices feed the bad bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria lead to cavities, gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and oral cancer.
The CDC reports that 46% of adults over the age of 30 exhibit signs of tooth decay. Left untreated, you are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and other health issues. The great news is, this is preventable. Making healthy diet choices will promote your general health and help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
What Causes Tooth Decay and Gum Disease?
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that covers the external layers of your teeth. When you consume starches, acidic foods and drinks, and sugar, these nutrients react to these bacteria. The result is a layer of acid that attacks your teeth and breaks down the enamel. This acid causes tooth decay and inflammation, resulting in cavities and the breakdown of your gums and bones.
What Foods and Drinks Cause Tooth Decay?
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that poor diet is the leading cause of oral diseases. You can promote oral health by avoiding processed foods and reading labels. Ingredients ending in ‘ose’ contain sugars that can break down the enamel on your teeth. For a brighter, longer-lasting smile, follow these health guidelines.
Avoid acidic foods. So many of us, often from a young age, have been regularly reminded that it is important to eat our fruits and vegetables. While these items are important for a healthy diet, some have high acidic levels. Try eating fresh produce like tomatoes, grapefruit, and oranges as part of a meal. This will help minimize the harmful bacteria these foods can form.
Limit sweets. There is a direct link between sugar and poor oral health. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends limiting the sugary foods and drinks you consume. The less obvious items containing sugar include cereal, sports and energy drinks, spaghetti sauce, and sodas.
Restrict consumption of teeth-staining drinks. Drinks like red wine, tea, and coffee contain color pigments known as chromogens. This pigment attaches to your tooth enamel and stains it. Drinking plenty of water along with these drinks will help wash away the chromogens before they attach to your teeth.
Beware of sticky foods. Starchy and sticky foods, such as bread, potatoes, honey, and raisins stick to your teeth and increase the risk of tooth decay. You can keep your gums and teeth healthy by limiting these sticky foods and maintaining proper oral hygiene habits. The American Dental Association recommends flossing once a day and brushing your teeth at least twice a day.
The Best Foods for Healthy Teeth
Eating a well-balanced diet creates a healthy environment for your teeth and gums. But, what constitutes a balanced diet? Industry leaders recommend sticking with the five major food groups and avoiding fad diets that can leave you deficient in important vitamins and minerals. Moderation and variety is a good rule of thumb. The best dietary choices for oral health include:
- Anti-inflammatory foods – Healthy fats promote oral health and reduce inflammation in the body.
- Calcium – Leafy greens, beans, dairy, and almonds help strengthen your teeth and reduce your chances of gum disease.
- Protein – A balanced diet should include proteins such as fish, poultry, and meats.
- Fresh produce – Fruits and vegetables help break down the acids that attack tooth enamel. Just make sure to eat them with a glass of water.
- Water – Regular water consumption helps support overall health and washes away harmful sugars stuck to your teeth.
Contact the Vero Beach Dental Experts
Early detection helps minimize any damage caused by oral disease. In fact, the effects can often be reversed with a proper treatment plan in place. If you are exhibiting signs of periodontal disease, contact us to schedule an appointment with our board-certified periodontist at Vero Implants and Periodontics.