You Are What You Eat!


Ann Clark RDH

You Are What You Eat!
What you eat and how often are important factors for preventing and maintaining good oral health.  The minute you eat or drink changes start occurring in your mouth.  Bacterias change sugars and carbohydrates into acids which attack the tooth’s enamel causing damage to occur.  The more you eat and snack, the more you expose your teeth to the decay cycle.
The best food choices are cheese, chicken and meat, nuts and milk.  These foods protect your enamel by providing calcium and phosphor needed to remineralize teeth subjected to acid attacks.  Other good choices are firm, crunchy fruits (apples/pears) and veggies.  These have a high water content, diluting the effects of sugars and stimulating saliva which helps cleanse your teeth through buffering the acids.  Acidic food like citrus fruits, tomatoes and lemons should be eaten as part of a meal to keep teeth protected.
Poor food choices are candy, mints, cookies, cake, pie, bread, muffins, chips, fries, pretzels, bananas and dried fruits. (No fun at all).  While containing larger amount of sugar they also are sticky on the tooth’s surface.  In addition, cough drops, like candy, need also be used minimally.
What about beverages?
Water, of course, is your best option, especially fluoridated water.  Also milk, and unsweetened tea are fine.  Limit your sugary drinks though, and drink up, do not sip through the day so as to constantly expose your tooth’s enamel to acid attacks.   Poor choices include: lemonade, soda, Gatorade, energy drinks, coffee/tea with sugar.  These expose your teeth to sugar, again creating the environment for acid attacks.
Sugar substitutes, although tasting like sugar, do not digest the same and do not “feed” the mouth’s bacterias or produce the decay-causing acids.  Sugarless and sugar-free labels mean no sugars were added during processing.  However, it could contain other natural sweeteners, like honey.  Examine your labels.
What about gum?
Sugarless gum is actually beneficial to the teeth as chewing actually helps to dislodge food stuck between the teeth and increases salivary flow to buffer the acids.  Do not become a gum chewer if you suffer from jaw pain.   Some gums containing xylitol are very beneficial.  Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener.  It is as sweet as sugar with 33% less calories.  Xylitol is actively beneficial by reducing cavities to a third in regular use and helpful to remineralization.
Thinking twice about your next snack move can prove helpful to both body and mouth…Apples anyone?

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