Foods can affect the teeth and mouth the minute you start eating and continue long after swallowing!
The process of decay:
The bacteria in your mouth can use the sugars from food to create an acidic environment which dissolves the minerals of the tooth, a process called demineralization. Teeth can regain minerals from teeth-healthy foods, saliva and from fluoride in a process called remineralization. But when minerals are lost faster than they can be regained this causes tooth decay. This is why you can get decay even when you clean your teeth everyday!
Fermentable carbohydrates break down in the mouth to simple sugars such as glucose, fructose, maltose and lactose and this begins the decay process. These foods include the obvious sugary foods and drinks such as cakes, sweets, cookies and soft drinks but also less obvious foods such as bread, crackers, bananas and cereals.
The longer food stays near the bacteria on the tooth the more acids are produced and the longer the acid attack lasts for. Hence sticky foods such as potato chips, sticky cereals, raisins and dry fruits can do more damage. Sipping on soft drinks, sweetened coffee or having sugary snacks between meals etc leads to almost constant acid attack which causes cumulative damage on the teeth. Indeed studies have shown that people who have sweets between meals have a higher decay rate than those how eat the same amount of sweets but with their meals.
It is best to follow the food pyramid for overall good nutrition but there are a few important tooth-healthy foods that can help prevent decay. Cheese, milk, chicken, other meats and nuts can help by buffering acids and providing calcium and phosphorous needed for remineralizing teeth. Vegetables do not contain enough carbohydrates to be bad for teeth. Firm fruits like apples and pears contain natural sugars but they also contain high water content which can dilute the effects and stimulate saliva flow.
Brush your teeth after meals to remove plaque bacteria. If you can’t brush, chew sugar free gum that can help stimulate saliva to buffer acids and wash away food debris. Gums with Xylitol have even been shown to reduce the number of decay causing bacteria in the mouth. Limit snacking and sipping on sweetened drinks, how often you eat can be just as important as what you eat!
Call us on 6183 9989 to speak to one of our friendly dentists today!