Practising a good oral hygiene routine is a really important part of keeping our mouths healthy but brushing, flossing and rinsing are not the only things we should be doing on a daily basis. Watching what we eat and drink has a huge impact on our dental health (not to mention our waistlines) and knowing which foods to eat or avoid can help keep teeth in tip top condition. Certain foods can be particularly harmful and while it’s hard to avoid them completely, cutting down on consumption could go a long way towards keeping your mouth in good shape. High sugar levels in the mouth create the perfect breeding ground for the bacteria that cause decay and while most people know that sweets and sugary drinks are bad for teeth, there are some other perhaps more surprising culprits!
Consume in moderation…
Alcohol – this often contains higher levels of sugar than you’d think and can dry the mouth out. Saliva plays an important role in washing away food particles and bacteria so anything that inhibits saliva production is not good for your dental health.
Caffeine – like alcohol it can reduce saliva production so go easy on the caffeinated tea and coffee.
Fresh and dried fruit – while fruit is generally considered to be healthy, keep an eye on how much you eat as the sugar and acid content can cause enamel erosion. Dried fruit can be particularly sticky and cling to your teeth so be mindful of this when you’re snacking.
Sports drinks – because they’re associated with exercise they’re sometimes thought of as healthy but these drinks are often loaded with sugar so look for low or no-sugar varieties if possible. Phosphoric and citric acid are also common ingredients are and these can eat into the protective tooth enamel, so check the label carefully.
Starchy foods – that delicious slice of buttered bread or your favourite bag of crisps can become wedged firmly in the gaps between your teeth providing a feast of sugary starch for those ever-hungry bacteria.
Dairy products – cheese, plain yoghurt and milk not only get the saliva flowing but their high calcium and phosphate levels help to keep your teeth and jaw bones strong. Cheese in particular has been shown to inhibit tooth erosion by neutralising acids in the mouth.
Fibre-rich fruit and vegetables – not only do they get your mouth watering but fibre-rich foods are thought to have a detergent effect in the mouth – a bit like washing your mouth out with soap and water but much more pleasant!
Sugar free gum – chewing gum is great for removing food particles from your teeth and creating saliva to wash away bacteria.
Black and green tea – tea contains polyphenols that kill tooth-damaging bacteria. Not only that, if your drinking water also contains fluoride, your daily cuppa could have double the benefit for your teeth!
We don’t have to give up any of the foods we love but it pays to be aware of the effect that certain foods can have on our oral health. So if you fancy one of the naughtier snacks on the list, just remember to neutralise the acid in your mouth after eating – sip a green tea, chew on some sugar-free gum or snack on a tasty piece of cheese, it’s up to you!
For any advice on your dental health or to book an appointment with one of our dentists, please call us on 01239 820083.