Did you know that your dental health is directly affected by your diet? Your Walnut Creek, California, dentist will tell you that maintaining good oral hygiene is essential for your smile, but your dental health also plays an important role in your overall well-being. One of the best ways to improve your oral hygiene is to learn which foods and beverages you need to limit, or avoid altogether, and which help to keep your teeth healthy. Once you know these foods and beverages, you can make changes in your diet to maintain your smile and potentially improve your overall well-being.
What You Eat Affects the Health of Your Teeth
The Problem with Plaque
As the bacteria consume the sugars and acids left in the mouth, they release waste products: Their waste product is referred to as plaque. Plaque is a sticky biofilm that adheres to the teeth. Plaque gives the bacteria a type of foundation to hold on to; thus, making it easier for the bacteria to remain in the mouth while you drink or rinse your mouth. This plaque eventually becomes acidic, which weakens the hard, protective layer of the tooth (i.e., enamel). Once the enamel erodes, tooth decay results. Tooth decay can lead to pain, requiring treatment to find relief. Your dentist at Pope Dental, in Walnut Creek, California, can help you with pain relief; however, you can limit enamel erosion by avoiding the types of food and beverages known to help bacteria thrive.
Your Food and Beverage Options for Healthy, Strong Teeth
Plain, Nonfat Yogurt and Low-Fat Cheese
You probably do not need your dentist to tell you that calcium-rich foods can help replace lost minerals in the teeth as well as protect the enamel. Cheese contains casein, which is a protein that is found in milk products. Casein helps to strengthen tooth enamel; therefore, cheese is very beneficial to the teeth.
Egg Yolks and Milk
While it is common knowledge that milk is an excellent source of vitamin D and calcium, you may be surprised to find out that egg yolks are too. Another way to get vitamin D is to spend from five to 30 minutes in the sun a couple of times a week. Keep in mind that calcium and vitamin D go hand-in-hand, in order to absorb calcium, the body must have an adequate amount of vitamin D. Once absorbed, the calcium strengthens the teeth.
Lean Meat, Fish, and Tofu
Fatty fish (e.g., salmon), lean meat and tofu are full of phosphorus, which, your Walnut Creek, California, dentist can tell you, is another extremely important mineral that may help protect tooth enamel.
Dark, Leafy Vegetables
Individuals who avoid eating meat can still attain plenty of vitamins and minerals through vegetables. Some of the best sources of essential minerals include kale, bok choy, okra, broccoli, collards as well as any other vegetables that are dark and leafy.
This high-fiber fruit can freshen your breath by scrubbing away plaque. Eliminating plaque is beneficial for your overall well- being: Maybe it is the apple’s ability to reduce plaque and improve one’s overall well-being that led to the well-known Welsh proverb, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away.’
Eating healthy foods that are crunchy and contain a lot of water stimulate saliva production. Not only that, these veggies can actually brighten your teeth because, just like apples, they scrub their surfaces. Your dentist will tell you that celery is a good choice because it is loaded water and with fibrous strands. When eaten raw, celery is, in essence, nature’s dental floss.
The Worst Kinds of Food for Your Teeth
When consumed frequently, acidic fruits like lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits and nectarines can erode tooth enamel, making the teeth vulnerable to the development of cavities. Without treatment from an experienced dentist, these cavities will continue to grow larger, resulting in pain and possible tooth loss.
So, although a simple glass of water can be enhanced with a squeeze of lemon, this beverage is not ideal for your teeth. If you do eat citrus or drink acidic beverages, remember to rinse your mouth out with water directly thereafter. This will help wash the acid out of your mouth.
Just like citrus, highly-acidic foods erode the hard, protective coating of enamel on the teeth. Highly-acidic foods include pickles, alcoholic beverages, tomatoes and coffee. Once the enamel has weakened, you may experience sensitivity to temperature changes as well as pain when consuming certain type of foods. Furthermore, your teeth may become discolored. Your dentist at Pope Dental, in Walnut Creek, California, can help you find relief from the pain associated with weakened enamel.
Crunchy Junk-Food Snacks
While potato chips offer a satisfying crunch and pleasant flavor, they are loaded with starch, which the body converts into sugar. Therefore, when these small pieces of chip get trapped between the teeth, you have provided the bacteria in your mouth with a feast. If you do eat these types of snacks, your Walnut Creek, California, dentist suggests that you take extra care while flossing to make sure you remove all the remaining food particles.
Unless sugar free, hard candy is loaded with sugar. This sugar sits on the teeth as you keep the candy in your mouth and, unless you rinse your mouth with water, it remains afterwards. In addition, if you have a habit of chewing on hard candy, you could break or chip a tooth, triggering a dental emergency. Try chewing sugar-free gum that has been approved by the American Dental Association instead.
Ice is Not for Chewing
There is a misconception that because ice is made of water and does not contain any sugar it is good for the teeth. The dangers associated with the chewing of any hard food or candy are true for ice as well. Chewing on ice causes damage to the enamel and can lead to broken or chipped tooth, which may be a dental emergency.
Plain Water Instead of Carbonated Soft Drinks
As you sip drinks that contain sugar, the bacteria consume that sugar and begin producing the acids that attack your tooth enamel. However, it is not just the sugar that is an issue when it comes to carbonated drinks because most of these drinks are also acidic, making even the diet carbonated drinks bad for the teeth. Moreover, caffeinated beverages like colas tend to dry out your mouth. Reducing saliva production is detrimental to the teeth because the food particles and sugar remain in the mouth longer, feeding the bacteria. If you cannot give up your carbonated beverages, your dentist in Walnut Creek, California, recommends that you drink water along with your soft drinks.
When considering a healthy snack, dried fruit is at the top of many people’s lists: The only problem is that these fruits are sticky. Since sticky foods remain on the teeth longer than most of the other kinds of foods do, if you enjoy eating trail mix or dried fruit, rinse your mouth after you eat your snack. Also, brush and floss thoroughly to ensure you remove any remaining food particles.
At Pope Dental, we are dedicated to providing each patient with a treatment plan that is designed to meet his or her specific needs. If you live in or around Walnut Creek, California, including throughout the Bay Area, and you need any type of cosmetic or restorative dentistry, contact Pope Dental today at 925-939-4989 to schedule your initial consultation.