Thursday, 20 February 2014

What the best and worst foods are for healthy, strong teeth ?

So many patients are always asking us what the best and worst foods are for healthy, strong teeth. Unfortunately, it is true that if you eat predominantly “bad” foods, the chances of developing a cavity are greatly increased.   In order to distinguish between good and bad foods for the teeth, it is important to know how cavities form.  

The steps to forming a cavity are as follows:

1.       First you need a thin, sticky film of bacteria to form on the tooth surfaces.  This film is called plaque.  Plaque accumulates if someone does not practice good oral hygiene techniques (i.e. regular brushing and flossing).

2.       The plaque then needs to come into contact with sugars and starches to produce acids that can attack our teeth for 20 minutes or more after we finish eating.  Continuous attacks can result in tooth structure breakdown and ultimately result in cavities.

Now that we know the steps necessary for cavities to form, it is important to see what foods increase the chances for developing cavities and which foods minimize our risk.

Foods that promote healthy teeth:

  • Fruits and veggies high in fiber (i.e. beans, artichokes, raspberries, blackberries, etc.) are great because these foods produce more saliva flow, which is like a natural mouthwash.  Our saliva neutralizes acids that destroy our teeth and contains minerals that rebuild spots on our teeth that have been attacked by bacterial acids.
  • Yogurt, Cheese, and milk all produce saliva and have minerals that also restore weak spots in the teeth.
  • Certain Teas (Green and Black Specifically) have a substance called polyphenols that suppress and kill bacteria.
  • Sugarless-gum helps produce saliva, which washes food from the teeth.

Foods to stay away from:

  • Sticky sweets (i.e. lollipops, cough drops, Jolly Ranchers, etc.).  The longer sugary substances stay in your mouth, the greater the chance for the bacteria to convert the sugar to acid.
  • Starchy foods such as chips and bread that can get stuck in the teeth.
  • Sodas and carbonated drinks not only contain high levels of refined sugar, but also phosphoric or citric acid that can damage tooth surfaces.

With these tips, as well as good home care (brushing and flossing two times per day) you can maintain healthy, clean, and strong functioning teeth!