Eating and drinking habits affect our oral healthFor Dental Health Week 2019, the Australian Dental Association has provided us with some important information on dieting and how the foods and drinks we consume have an effect on our oral health.
Eating Affects Your Oral HealthThe reality is our eating habits play a major role in tooth decay, which is a diet-related disease. Sugars in the foods and drinks we eat are taken up by bacteria, producing acids that attack the outer layer of tooth enamel to cause tooth decay. Our saliva helps our teeth recover from these attacks through a process neutralising the acids. However, if we frequently snack between meals, there is no rest period for teeth to undergo this recovery process, which means that, over time, a cavity forms as a result of these sustained acid attacks.
Water, Water EverywhereDrink it up. It’s calorie-free, there are no ingredient labels to stress over, and it’s almost free! Even better, tap water in most areas of Australia contains fluoride, one of the easiest and most beneficial ways to help prevent tooth decay. Making water your beverage of choice and regularly sipping it throughout the day, including with and right after meals, makes a real difference to the health of your teeth.
Watch What You EatIt is not just the obvious sweet foods and drinks such as candies and soft drinks that can cause decay. Frequent snacking on foods with hidden sugars like biscuits, crackers, cereals, chips and even dried fruit (these also break down into sugars in the mouth) can cause acid attacks on your tooth enamel. Here are two teeth-friendly habits you can adopt to reduce your risk of tooth decay:
- Have three regular meal times a day, rather than snacking and grazing
- Limit your sugary treats to be part of a meal rather than as a snack
Chewing Gum Anyone?Chewing sugar-free gum (it must be sugar free!) may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you’re thinking about good dietary habits to benefit your teeth. Studies have shown that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after eating can prompt your mouth to produce more saliva, which helps to neutralise decay-causing acid attacks.
Tips for Maintaining Healthy Teeth
- Limit sugary treats to meal times, rather than between meals.
- Drink tap water with fluoride tap water throughout the day and after meals.
- Chew sugar-free gum after eating.