It’s common knowledge—sugary foods and drinks can wreak havoc on your teeth. But not everyone understands the science behind it.
So here’s the thing: your teeth are strong, but they’re also fragile. They can cut through some tough stuff (which you probably shouldn’t be eating), but they’re soft and permeable—they’re affected by everything you put in your mouth!
Sugar might be the most damaging thing of all. It combines with bacteria inside your mouth to make acid. And that acid is where the real problem lies. It attacks your teeth. And those attacks weaken the tooth enamel. And that can lead to cavities, tooth decay, and sometimes even gum disease.
Oh, and that little attacking acid we mentioned? It starts its attack over and over again every time you eat or drink. The severity just depends on what you’re eating. And there’s no way around it. That’s the bad news.
The good news is, you get to decide exactly what you’re eating and how you’re taking care of your teeth.
A Smile-Healthy Diet
Let’s start with the “Do’s.”
- Eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. *Nom nom nom.*
- Drink plenty of water—at least 8 cups every day. It helps stimulate saliva, and keep bacteria from stagnating on your teeth.
- Make sure to include whole grains, lean proteins, as well as low-fat or fat-free dairy foods into your diet.
- Basically, if you feel like you’re “being good” by eating it, you’re probably in the oral-health clear. Unless you’re lying to yourself, then refer to the tips above and below.
And on to the don’ts…
- Sip on sugary drinks. Be sure to check labels. You know pop is bad for your teeth, but even juices, sports drinks, and coffees can cause tooth shattering acid attacks.
- Eat candy, cookies, cakes, etc. You know how people are afraid of clowns? Well, your teeth are afraid of sugary baked goods. Especially the ones with faces….
- Pro Tip: If a coworker brings it to the snack room so “they won’t eat it all themself,” it’s a trap.
The most important thing to remember is that everything is fine in moderation. Remember the food pyramid from elementary school gym class? They taught it to you for a reason. A balanced diet is good for you and your smile—it even allows for a little treat every once in a while. (We may be dentists, but we love our occasional sugar fix too.)
Just combine that balanced diet with brushing, flossing, and visiting your MDA dentist regularly for a healthy, happy smile. Bon appétit.