As crazy as it sounds, certain types of food and drink can be harmful to your teeth and you should be aware of that fact before it is too late. However, what you consume can help to maintain a good oral hygiene and keep your teeth as healthy as possible.
When you eat or drink, sugars and carbohydrates are transformed into acids which attack the enamel on your teeth. That’s when the enamel softens, it gets thinner and the cavities begin to form.
According to Sydney Dentist Dr Stephen Blatchford, tooth erosion is another dental problem that seems to be a growing issue amongst Australians and should be taken very seriously. Although this condition is irreversible, it is important to consult as soon as the warning signs appear to keep the situation from worsening.
What to drink
Water is the most beneficial liquid for the health of your teeth. It contains fluoride which contributes to washing away food debris that often get trapped in the teeth. Furthermore, water helps to keep your saliva at a high level because it contains proteins and minerals. The latter two counteract acids and enzymes from eating the enamel, thereby preventing tooth decay.
If you are not too crazy about water, a good alternative is unsweetened tea. Researchers have discovered that drinking three to four cups of tea a day can reduce the risk of cavities. Aside from containing powerful antioxidants called polyphenols, some studies say that black tea can help fight Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus, two sorts of bacteria involved in tooth decay and gum disease. Green tea has similar properties and is also known to neutralize sulphur compounds which are responsible for halitosis (commonly called bad breath).
Another good example is milk. Containing high concentration of calcium, vitamin D and phosphates, milk will strengthen your teeth and will protect them from tooth decay as well as gum disease (also called periodontal disease). Drinking 1% low-fat or skim (nonfat) milk should be preferred to 2% or whole milk. You will gain the maximum of its nutrients without the fat that will clog your arteries.
What not to drink
Coffee is known to stain your teeth, but it is also very damaging for them especially if you add sugar or whole milk. Also, drinking large amount of coffee can attack the enamel and therefore, produce dental decay. Many years ago, the Australian Dental Association has issued a warning stating that caffeine inhibits saliva production. This can generate dry mouth which can lead to cavities. According to the market research organisation Roy Morgan Research, it seems that Australians are drinking less coffee than before.
Other beverages that could be truly bad for your oral health are carbonated soft drinks. They contain sugar and acidic ingredients which can cause tooth erosion as well as dental decay. Furthermore, soft drinks that contain caffeine have the same properties than coffee itself. Alcohol beverages, citrus and fruit juices are also drinks that can be hard on your dental health. When drinking fruit juice or soft drinks, using a straw could be a good way to avoid contact with your teeth.
What to eat
Cheeses, chicken or other meats and nuts are the best types of food for your dental health. The calcium and phosphates contained in these foods are known to help protect your teeth by remineralizing them. Fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber help stimulate saliva production which activates minerals restoration. They also work like oral detergent by “scrubbing” the teeth. Watery fruits and vegetables, like apple, celery and watermelon, have the property of diluting their own sugars. Another way to increase saliva flow is to chew sugarless gum after each meal and it will also help dislodge food debris.
What not to eat
Candies and sweets, especially those that take the longest to dissolve, are extremely bad for your oral health. Fortunately for chocolate lovers, our favorite sweet is coated in fat so it is easily and quickly swallowed. Starchy foods like bread, pasta, potato chips, crackers and popcorn can cause real damage to the enamel because they often get stuck on and between the teeth. As they linger in the mouth, they break down into sugars which will cause oral bacteria to thrive on them and transform them into enamel-eating acids. Honey and dried fruits, because of their high concentration in sugar, can be very harmful for your teeth and also cause tooth decay.
In order to better grasp this information, here is an infographic, created by Smile Artistry, which serves as an excellent visual recap of the good and the bad sorts of food and drink. Moreover, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) provides several useful tips to help you take care of your teeth. So go ahead, drink and eat healthy!