Our teeth are resilient. Did you know teeth are firmer and denser than bone? But that doesn’t mean they are indestructible! Our diets affect our teeth from the moment we have grown them, both as baby teeth and permanent adult teeth. Certain foods and drinks will lead to tooth decay more quickly than others. So, understanding the relationship between our diet and our teeth is important for children and adults alike.
Understanding Tooth Decay
Tooth decay occurs when acids, sugar, and wear react with bacteria in our plaque. Sugars lead the mouth to produce acids which then “burn” or degrade the hard enamel of our teeth. As this happens consistently over time, tooth enamel can corrode and form a “cavity” or hole in the dentine. After this occurs, the tooth can decay more rapidly with a cavity essentially growing on and within itself. All food breaks down teeth over time, but some are worse than others.
What Type of Food Causes Tooth Decay?
Sugar is the main culprit that causes tooth decay. This isn’t just refined sugars either like sucralose or glucose either. All forms of sugar can and do damage teeth over time. Our western diet is also full of highly processed foods high in refined sugars. Many products list sugar as one of the first ingredients so you know it’s high in sugar. It’s a good idea to read the list of ingredients on any product you’re considering. If sugar is one of the first ingredients, it will be havoc on your teeth and should never be a staple of your diet.
Don’t be fooled by labels that say “sugar-free” or “no sugar added”. Sweet foods that are “sugar-free” often contain other forms of sugar and sugar replacements which are also bad for teeth. Foods labeled “no sugar added” may contain sugar on their own but simply have no additional sugar added. Think of Tropicana orange juice, it may have no additional sugar added but is fruit juice and therefore contains fructose, the sugar found in fruit. It’s important to be aware of these.
Carbohydrates as well are a form of sugar, so don’t think that just because something has “no sugar added” or is “sugar-free” it has no sugar. If it has carbohydrates it also has sugar.
What Causes Dental Erosion?
Dental erosion occurs when tooth enamel dissolves over time. Certain acidic foods will lead to a higher level of dental erosion. Acidic foods include:
- Citrus juice
- and more
Any food with a pH of 5.5 or lower is considered acidic and will do more tooth damage over time. But this doesn’t mean you can never have another glass of red wine! Just keep in mind that good dental hygiene will help balance out the effects that sugars and acids have on teeth. Be sure you’re brushing 2 times a day and flossing at a minimum once a day.
Why is Our Diet so Important for Oral Health?
Processed foods and refined sugars do a lot of damage to our teeth. If we compound that with poor dental hygiene you could quickly find yourself dealing with all sorts of painful oral problems. Sugars stick to our teeth and should be kept to a minimum or with mealtime. If you’re snacking all the time with sugary foods you’ll have the risk of weight gain or diabetes but also gum disease and tooth decay.
Tooth decay and gum disease can happen more quickly than you think and good oral hygiene habits won’t prevent them outright. Diets high in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, vitamins & minerals will help prevent all forms of gum disease and decay. Poor diets can quickly lead to health complications and oral problems, such as:
- Cracks and holes in the teeth
- Gum disease
- Sensitivity and pain
These can then lead to:
- Tooth Extractions
- Dental Implants
- Crowns & Bridges
See Your Dentist Regularly
One of the most important things you can do, no matter your diet, is going to the dentist regularly. This is a preventative measure that will help you keep your teeth and gums on track. If you’re facing problems like cavities, your dentist will also spot them quickly and start a treatment plan to prevent them from getting worse. If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while don’t hesitate. Get into a dentist’s chair as quickly as possible and you may save yourself from costly procedures like dental implants.
For the Best Dentist in Coney Island NY, look no further than over 40 years of local practice, right here at Coney Island Dental. We proudly help over 4,000 patients year in and year out. Call today and get an introductory Cleaning and X-ray at a low cost. Let us help you achieve the smile of your dreams today!