Everything you eat and drink can have a major effect on the health of your teeth and gums, particularly whether you develop tooth decay, a diet related disease which is caused when the sugars in the food and drinks you eat are taken up by bacteria; these in turn produce the acids that can attack the outer layer of tooth enamel. To ensure that your diet doesn’t negatively affect your teeth, there’s a few key things to keep in mind:
Drink lots of water
It’s calorie free, there are no ingredient labels to stress over, and it’s almost free! Even better, tap water in most areas of Australia contains fluoride, one of the easiest and most beneficial ways to help prevent tooth decay. If you choose water over anything else, and regularly sip it throughout the day, you’re going a long way to making real difference to the health of your teeth.
Limit snacking between meals
A key component in helping to prevent decay is saliva which helps your teeth recover from these attacks by neutralising the acids. Its good work, however, can be undone if you snack frequently between meals, which means your teeth don’t get a break from the acid attacks that occur when you eat. Also, limit sugary treats to meal times, rather than between meals.
Watch what you eat
It is not just the obvious sweet foods and drinks such as lollies and soft drinks that can cause decay. Frequent snacking on foods with hidden sugars like biscuits, crackers, cereals, chips and even dried fruit (these foods break down into sugars in the mouth) can cause acid attacks on your tooth enamel.
Chewing sugar-free gum (and that’s the crucial qualifier, it must be sugar-free!) may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you’re thinking about good dietary habits that benefit your teeth. But studies have shown that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after eating can prompt your mouth to produce more saliva, which helps neutralise decay-causing acid attacks.