Strategies to Avoid Tooth Damage From Your Food and Drink
Your personal responsibility for keeping your teeth healthy is too often reduced to going to the dentist and brushing twice per day. But the more you take responsibility for what happens in your mouth between cleanings, the better you can strategize to prevent tooth damage.
Here are a few strategies that can help you reduce the amount of damage your teeth experience due to the foods you eat.
1. Eat Certain Foods in Moderation
You’ve heard that sugar is bad for your teeth, so obviously the first step is to be aware of which foods are high in sugar and avoid overindulging. But this doesn’t mean you can never eat sugar again. Limiting your sugary food intake to once per day or at least confining it to mealtimes is a step in the right direction.
You may not have known, however, that the acid-creating bacteria in your mouth can also feed on starches. So it’s not just sugar that you need to limit. White foods full of simple starches are the best for acid production, so choosing whole-grain foods or limiting white breads to one meal per day can help.
2. Choose Snacks Wisely
If you’re in the habit of eating snacks between meals, or even need periodic snacks to keep your blood sugar stable, try to look for snacks that fulfill those requirements without coating your teeth with sugar. Cheese, snow peas, and even nuts can be better snacks than more sugary and starchy foods.
And eating your snack all at once is better for your teeth than eating one bite every few minutes for an entire hour; as soon as you stop eating, your saliva can start to clear away the food debris and return your mouth’s PH levels to normal. If you keep eating over a long period of time, your mouth can’t fully recover between bites.
3. Encourage Saliva Production
Because your saliva is what helps your mouth recover after eating and carries minerals to keep enamel structurally sound, dry mouth can be a huge issue. Low saliva production means your mouth can’t recover easily and thus you’re more likely to get a lot of cavities.
Drinking plenty of water ensures that saliva production isn’t curtailed by dehydration. And since the action of chewing (and the flavor of mint) can help stimulate saliva, pop a piece of sugar-free gum in your mouth if it starts to feel dry.
4. Rinse After Eating
Rinsing your mouth out with water or mouthwash after eating can give your teeth a head start on recovering from the meal. You’ll reduce the amount of food debris that has to be cleared away and the amount of sugar and starches sitting in your mouth for bad bacteria to feed on.
5. Use Xylitol-Containing Gum
Although any sugar-free gum can help stimulate saliva, xylitol-containing gum can be even better for your teeth. Chewing this type of gum on a regular basis may even help protect your teeth from plaque slightly. The bad bacteria can’t digest xylitol and turn it into acid, and it makes forming colonies and biofilm more difficult.
6. Find Tooth-Friendly Foods You Love
If you cut out all sugars and starches, you may end up feeling like you’re on a no-fun, super-restrictive diet that’s way more work than it’s worth, which means you’re likely to get demotivated and quit. Instead of looking at what you eat and just cutting out anything that’s not tooth-friendly, take some time to look around for foods that are great for oral health.
For example, avocados, wild-caught fish and seafood, and green tea are all good for your teeth. So you could play around with creating a stevia-sweetened matcha latte that’s much less likely to harm your teeth than a soda or a sugar-containing latte. Once you’ve found healthier alternatives that you actually like, start substituting them for the unhealthy foods.
These strategies, when practiced along with professional dental care and regular home cleaning, may help you reduce incidence of cavities in your mouth considerably. Contact Vincent J. Picone D.D.S. today if you’re due for a professional checkup.