NEW YORK — If you’ve heard that candy rots your teeth, or that eating seltzer once (or two or three times a day) erodes your tooth enamel, what other snacks, drinks, and meals are there? You may wonder if there is. Snacking can harm your teeth.
While it is technically true that all foods and beverages can cause tooth decay and damage to the tooth surface or enamel, not all foods and beverages are equally harmful, as are others. Some people are more susceptible to tooth decay than others.
Here are some things to keep in mind to protect your oral health.
Why are some foods worse than others?
According to Apoena de Aguiar Ribeiro, M.D., a pediatric dentist and microbiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, when assessing the extent to which meals, snacks, desserts, or beverages may adversely affect dental health, the main considerations are: There are two important points. The oral microbiome and how it affects caries: its composition and quality.
More than 700 species of bacteria live in our mouths, some beneficial and some harmful. Harmful bacteria break down sugars from food and drinks and turn them into acids. This acid can over time rob your teeth of essential minerals and lead to tooth decay.
If you neglect cleaning, bacteria can form a soft film or plaque on the tooth surface, exacerbating acidity and creating an ideal environment for more bacteria to grow.
When plaque grows enough and hardens, it can turn into tartar, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis.
What kind of food is bad for you?
Foods high in sugar, especially those made up of sucrose and table sugar, are especially bad for your teeth because they breed harmful bacteria, says Dr. De Agia Ribeiro. Sugary drinks such as fruit juices and sodas often contain sucrose.
Additionally, sticky, sticky, or chewy foods such as gummies, dried fruits, syrups, and candies can get stuck in the nooks and crannies of your teeth. These bacteria store sugar “like the pantry in your teeth” and continue to produce acid for hours after you eat.
Certain drinks such as sugar-sweetened sodas, juices, energy drinks, and milkshakes are also serious offenders. They wash your teeth with a sticky sugar solution, and they’re acidic to boot. Dr. Rocio Quinones, Professor of Pediatric Dentistry at Chapel Hill, said: pH is around 3-4. ”
Other carbonated drinks like seltzer are also acidic. The same goes for coffee and alcoholic beverages, often with sugary syrups or mixers.
Fresh fruits, vegetables, or starchy foods like citrus fruits, potatoes, rice, and even bananas are bad for your teeth because they can contain sugars and acids that can wear down your teeth. is often regarded as
“It also contains nutrients that promote overall health and may have a positive impact on your teeth,” says Dr. Dorota Kopicka Kezylawski, a dentist and caries researcher at the University of Rochester Medical Center. increase. Attenuation.
Even if it’s a food that’s high in sugar and tends to get stuck in your teeth, the tradeoff may be worth it, she said.
If you have particularly deep grooves in your teeth, or if your teeth are in tight contact with each other, chewy, sticky foods may be more of a concern than others, added Dr Quinones. In that case, you should pay more attention not only to your diet, but also to your cleaning habits.
As long as you brush your teeth twice a day (once in the morning and once before bed) and floss daily, the nutritional benefits of these foods outweigh the risk of tooth damage.
When it comes to fruit, many store-bought and even homemade fruit smoothies have added sucrose, which is why “it’s better to eat fruit than drink it,” says Dr. Kopicka Kejelowski. increase.
What can I do to prevent tooth decay?
The good news is that in addition to regular brushing and flossing, there are some science-backed strategies you can use to keep your teeth in check.
Avoid snacks and pickpockets. Saliva, which helps wash away any remaining food particles, is one of the teeth’s most protective forces. Contains bicarbonates that help remineralize and strengthen tooth enamel and neutralize acidity in the mouth.
But it takes about 20 to 30 minutes for saliva to reach protective levels after every meal or drink, so frequent snacking and drinking can throw you off balance, Dr. Quinones said.
If you absolutely must have a sugary drink, drink it with meals or try to drink it all at once instead of snuggling with it throughout the day. Drinking water after you’re done with whatever food or drink you’ve ingested can also help expel sugar, she added.
Limit your alcohol intake. Heavy drinkers should also be careful, as alcohol can inhibit regular salivation and make it more difficult for the body to clean the residue that sticks to the teeth.
Be aware of certain conditions and side effects of medications. Many medical conditions, treatments, and medications, such as tuberculosis, chemotherapy, dialysis, antihistamines, and blood pressure medications, can interfere with saliva production or alter saliva quality. Therefore, those affected should take care to practice good dental hygiene.
Replace with sugar substitutes. Switching out sugary drinks and snacks for sugar-free alternatives is great for your teeth, says Dr. De Agia Ribeiro. Sugar substitutes such as aspartame and sugar alcohols do not cause tooth decay because they are not metabolized by bacteria like regular sugar. However, be aware that the acids in diet soda cause tooth demineralization.
Chew sugar-free gum with xylitol. Similarly, Dr. de Agia Ribeiro added that “sugar alcohols like xylitol, which have antibacterial activity,” may slow acid production in oral bacteria. Chewing three times a day has been shown to increase saliva flow and also have antibacterial benefits,” she said. is one of the best options.
Drink certain types of tea. There is also evidence that black and green tea contain fluoride and have high pH levels that help prevent tooth decay. “But don’t add sugar,” added Dr. De Agia Ribeiro.
Get regular checkups. Tooth decay is the most common non-communicable disease worldwide. For most people, regular dental checkups every six months can catch cavities before they become serious, says Dr. Kopycka-Kedzierawski. It is important to see a specialist. Because if you have enough cavities to notice them, you will get cavities.
Habits that are good for your dental health are generally good habits for your overall health, said Dr. Quinones. Getting a physical checkup and avoiding snacking (especially if the snack is a sugary or sticky food or drink) can be beneficial. Don’t overthink it, she added.
This article originally appeared on The New York Times.