Last time we discussed some of the variables involved with oral health. I mentioned that the three main variables were oral hygiene, diet and habits. In particular, we discussed oral hygiene. This time we will focus on our diets.
The American diet has progressively worsened over the years. I will not focus on the overall health effects of foods, but will focus primarily on how they affect teeth. I will also focus more on what we should avoid in this blog rather than on what we should consume.
What are some of the foods we should avoid?
- Sticky foods
- Beverages with high a sugar content
- Acidic foods and beverages
Anything that sits on your teeth for extended periods of time, will accelerate the cavity process.
Sticky foods such as taffy, Tootsie Rolls, caramel, gum and other similar foods remain on the teeth for extended periods of time. The sugars are then metabolized by bacteria in your mouth. As a waste product, acids are produced. The acids then demineralize the tooth structure. This is how cavities form. I wouldn't classify hard candies as a sticky food, but the result is the same since they remain in the mouth for extended periods of time.
Some people love to eat dried fruit. Although fruit is very healthy, dried fruits stick to teeth and are therefore very harmful if allowed to just sit on the teeth.
Sodas, pops, soft drinks, whatever you want to call them, are detrimental to your overall health...not just your teeth. They are bad for your teeth for two main reasons.
One reason they are bad for you is the high sugar content. Most people are well aware that sugars are bad for teeth. It's self explanatory.
Another major reason is the acidity. Most people don't realize how acidic these drinks are. Look at the ingredients of your next drink. Some will have phosphoric acid. Why? I don't know. Also, any ingredient with the suffix -ate (such as malate, citrate, oxalate) are acids! Even if these acids weren't present, anything that is carbonated is an acid. Carbon dioxide and water combine to form carbonic acid! Sodas are definitely one of the worst things that we consume. If we knew we were drinking a highly acidic beverage, many of us would pass on it and choose a better option. Well, hopefully now we'll pass on these delicious beverages.
Yes, many juices are very healthy for our overall health. However, some can be very detrimental to our oral health. Citric acid juices such as orange, lemon or grapefruit juices are very acidic. Again, it's the acid that is so harsh on our teeth (and bones).
Many juices also have a high sugar content. Most of us know that sugars are detrimental to teeth. So I need not go into much detail here.
Another factor to consider is the amount of time it takes to consume a beverage. It is much better for someone to consume a drink in a 5 minute period rather than sipping on it and consuming it over an extended period of time. The reason for this is because the amount of time these drinks sit on your teeth is extended dramatically.
I'm not suggesting that we never eat some of these foods. I enjoy them on occasion too. If we must eat some of these foods, make sure you remove the sugars from your teeth as quickly as possible. Most of the damage occurs within the first 20 minutes.
In the next segment of this blog, we will discuss habits.
Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit www.advanced-smiles.com.