Nutrition and Prevention
Healthy eating habits are important for oral health. The foods we choose and how often we eat them can affect our general health and oral health. Consuming sugary sodas, sweetened fruit drinks or non-nutritious snacks often increases the risk of cavities. Additionally, a diet lacking certain nutrients may make it more difficult for tissues in the mouth to resist infection, contributing to gum disease.
Limit Snacking to Help Reduce Cavities
Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth comes into contact with sugar or simple carbohydrates, causing the bacteria to produce acid which wears away the teeth. This “acid attack” can last for 20-40 minutes after eating. Saliva helps to restore the pH of the mouth after eating. Frequent snacking prolongs the duration of acid production thus leading to an increased risk for cavities. Limiting snacking to 3 times per day and choosing healthy snacks will help to reduce the risk of cavities.
Which foods can have adverse effects on oral health?
Non-nutritious foods such as candy, cookies, cakes, muffins, and chips are cause for dental concern. These foods offer little to no nutritional value, and the amount and type of sugar that they contain adheres to teeth increasing acid production and therefore increasing the risk of cavities. Additionally, drinks such as soda, lemonade, juice and sweetened coffee or tea are particularly harmful because sipping them causes a constant sugar exposure to teeth and prolonging the “acid attack” which can lead to tooth decay. Water is a much better option to stay hydrated. If you do consume a sugary drink, try to minimize the drinking time and rinse after.
Some nutritious foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruits are acidic by nature. They can have acidic effects on tooth enamel. Try to eat them as part of a meal, not by themselves. Dried fruits are a good choice for a healthy diet, but since they are sticky and adhere to teeth for long periods of time, the bacteria acids that they produce continue to harm teeth long after you stop eating them. If possible, brush and floss your teeth after eating dried fruits.
Preventative dentistry relies on good oral hygiene and regular dental care and is important throughout your life, whatever your age. By helping your child practice good oral hygiene at home and visiting 3 Rivers Pediatric Dentistry regularly, you will help prevent dental problems and save time and money. You will also lay the foundation for your child’s lifestyle of good dental health.