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You Are What You Eat: How Diet Affects Dental Health

You may have heard the phrase before: “You are what you eat.” It usually refers to your weight and your general health, but it can also refer to your dental health. For years dentists and parents have told children that too much candy and sugar will “rot your teeth.” Well it turns out they were right and have always been right.

Ways that Food Takes its Toll on Teeth

The food and drink we consume clings to our teeth until we brush it away. As we chew, bits of food get stuck in the small spaces within our teeth and between our teeth. As we drink liquids wash over and between our teeth and also cling to the food that is clinging to our teeth. 

Sugary and acidic foods and beverages can begin to break down the enamel of our teeth. This is the process of decay. When decay becomes severe enough, cavities form (actual holes in the enamel of our teeth). When cavities get deep enough to reach the soft pulp and nerves inside our teeth, that’s when we may feel pain and require a root canal to save the tooth. 

When decay becomes severe enough, so much so that a root canal cannot save the tooth, a crown may be required. In some cases when the tooth root cannot be saved, a tooth may need to be extracted and replaced with a dental implant.

Food and Drinks to Avoid for Better Dental Health

  • Soda (soft drinks)
  • Candy (especially the sticky kind that clings to teeth)
  • Sweetened beverages of any kind (including iced tea)
  • Sour candy (it is especially acidic)
  • Dried fruit (sticks to teeth and has added sugar)
  • Chips (cling to teeth and turn to sugar in saliva)
  • Fruit juice (is both sugary and acidic)

These are just a few of the worst foods and drinks for your teeth. If you choose to consume these, try and brush your teeth soon afterwards.

How Often You Eat Affects your Dental Health

Most people are aware of the fact that certain foods are bad for their teeth. What many people don’t know is that the frequency of your eating habits makes a difference in your dental health. Constantly sipping on sugary beverages, sucking on hard candy, or munching on things every few minutes can make a more negative impact on your teeth than what you eat. 

The reason is that your mouth makes enzymes that protect your teeth from bacteria that causes decay. If you are constantly eating or drinking, your mouth doesn’t have time to build up these enzymes and is much more susceptible to tooth decay. Every time you take a sip of a drink or a bit of a snack, your teeth are exposed to the sugar and acidity. It’s best to try and let at least 2 hours go by between snacks and meals, with the exception of drinking water.

The Correlation Between Dental Health and Other Health Problems

It has been discovered that there is a link between dental health and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. If you’re eating unhealthy foods and portions that are too large, you are more likely to suffer from heart disease and diabetes, which can be indicated by the condition of your teeth. Studies also suggest that sugar feeds cancer cells in the body. So what you eat takes its toll on your whole body as well as your oral health.

Are Your Teeth Showing the Signs of Poor Diet?

Arrowhead Dental Associates provides a complete range of dental services. Whether you have cavities, need a root canal, or you hope to prevent tooth decay with regular cleanings, you can get the dental care you need from Arrowhead Dental Associates. Call 401-364-6300 today to schedule an appointment or request an appointment.