People aged 20 and above have had at least one cavity in their lifetimes. Good oral hygiene is important for having a healthy smile. But what is the link between your diet and oral health?
Does what you eat matter? Should you avoid certain foods if you want to have good dental health? Keep reading and learn more about the link between what you eat and your dental health.
The Consequences of What You Eat for Your Dental Health
The average American diet consists of everything from dairy products and meat to fish and bread. Most people eat plenty of carbs in the form of bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice. Fast food is one of the most popular food options.
Drinks like coffee, red wine, and fruit juice are also very popular. But these different substances can negatively affect your teeth in different ways. The main enemy of good oral care is sugar.
Everyone has heard that sugar can cause cavities, but how true is that? The truth is that there is indeed a direct link between sugar consumption and cavity formation. This is due to the bacteria that live in your mouth.
There are many strains of bacteria that live on your tongue and teeth. These bacteria don’t do much until you introduce sugar into your mouth. These bacteria love to eat sugar.
When they do, they secrete acid as a byproduct. This acid is not strong enough to cause any pain, but it can harm your teeth. Tooth enamel is one of the strongest tissues in the human body, but it is no match for this bacterial acid.
If you don’t brush your teeth after you eat or drink something, this acid will sit on your teeth for hours. The acid will then break down your tooth enamel and render it soft and weak. Excessive acid exposure will thin the enamel and make your teeth sensitive.
This is because your tooth enamel will no longer be thick enough to protect the sensitive nerves and blood vessels inside your teeth. This bacterial acid will also cause cavities.
Cavities are small holes in the teeth.
They get worse when bacteria get lodged in them and start secreting more acid. Serious cavities can burrow deep into the tooth until they hit the pulp. This is where the blood vessels and nerves are.
Deep cavities like these can cause serious pain and also increase your risk of developing an infection. All this can happen from eating sugar. Most people think of sugar in the form of candy or soda.
While these are the main culprits, sugar also comes in other forms. Carbohydrates are complex sugars. Eating bread or pasta can be as bad as eating a handful of candy.
Drinking fruit juice can be bad too. This is because fruit juices are full of natural sugar and sometimes added sugar. Does this mean you have to avoid anything that contains sugar?
Not at all. While it is a good idea to reduce how much sugar you contain, you don’t have to cut it all out. The best solution is to brush your teeth twice or three times a day.
This will brush away the excess sugar and prevent the bacteria in your mouth from secreting acid.
Other Diet Concerns to Consider
Sugar is not the only enemy of good dental health. Acidic foods can also hurt your teeth. Orange juice, citrus fruits, soda, and coffee are common examples of acidic substances.
Consuming these substances once in a while won’t hurt you. But consuming them all the time may cause problems. The main problem is that acidic substances can wear down your tooth enamel.
The acid in these substances is similar to the acid that the bacteria in your mouth produce. Constantly exposing your teeth to acid will eat away at your tooth enamel. Your enamel will eventually get so thin that your teeth will be very sensitive.
Your enamel also cannot grow back. This is why thin tooth enamel is such a serious issue. It is sometimes necessary to cover sensitive teeth with crowns to protect them.
You should also avoid brushing your teeth after eating anything acidic. This may seem counterproductive. Shouldn’t you brush your teeth right away to get the acid off your teeth?
What You Need to Know
Brushing your teeth after eating something acidic will further harm your tooth enamel. This is because your enamel will be in a very soft state due to the acid.
It is best to wait 30 minutes to brush your teeth. This gives your mouth time to produce enough saliva to wash away most of the acid. You can then brush your teeth safely.
You should also be careful with drinks that contain strong pigments. These include fruit juices, coffee, and red wine. Drinking these beverages too often can stain your teeth.
While discoloration won’t hurt your teeth, it can make them look less than ideal. Some stained teeth turn brown or yellow. It is a good idea to drink water after drinking these beverages.
This will remove most of the pigment from your teeth. You can then brush your teeth at your earliest convenience.
All About Your Diet and Good Oral Hygiene
Your diet has a strong connection with good oral hygiene. If you eat sugar all the time and don’t brush your teeth, you will develop cavities and tooth decay. Acidic foods and substances with strong pigments aren’t good either.
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