We all know that some foods are bad for your health, and eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day is recommended to keep you on the right track, but did you know that some foods that seem healthy may also be damaging your teeth. In this blog I will tell you 4 foods/drinks that you need to be aware of and how to counter their effects on your teeth.
SUGAR – this is getting some major bad press recently for the potential health impact that consuming too much can have. As a dental student, one of the first things you learn about sugar is that it increases the risk of tooth decay. So as long as you don’t have anything that seems to have sugar in you’ll be fine won’t you? Unfortunately not. There are many foods that you may not realise have sugar added such as ketchup, shop made meals and anything that’s processed. And those of you who like a smoothie or freshly squeezed juice are also at risk. Sugar is sugar, it doesn’t matter the source. Frequency of intake is key, so if you are going to eat anything containing sugar do it at mealtimes when your saliva flow is higher – this helps neutralise plaque acid.
DRIED FRUIT – drying fruit does 2 things; it concentrates the sugar and makes it nice and sticky. Dried fruit stuck on your teeth is hard to remove and so cleaning after eating is essential – but leave for 20 minutes so that your saliva can neutralise the effect of plaque acid first. Try and eat any dried fruit at mealtimes as the extra saliva is helpful to counter the effect of eating.
ALCOHOL – most alcohol is acidic and causes dehydration (which affects saliva) and so can cause erosion of the teeth. Acid will weaken the enamel so make sure to leave at least 20 minutes between consuming alcohol and brushing so the enamel can recover first.
FIZZY DRINKS – we are not just talking about coke, even fizzy water can thin enamel due to the carbon dioxide bubbles dissolving in the water which make carbonic acid. Diet drinks are the same, so don’t be fooled by the artificial sugar – they are all acidic. And of course fruit juice is also acidic. Again make sure to brush after having fizzy drinks or fruit juice.
Just a quick note about diet foods – always check how much sugar and salt is in low fat versions of food. Often they have much higher amounts of both compared to the normal version, so check the labels. Something has to be added to make them taste good after all. Although some fat is necessary in your diet, it’s more important to balance everything you consume. Oh and eat your veggies!