Food and Your Teeth
Most of us are generally aware that the foods we eat affect the health of our teeth. What we may not know is how cavities can be prevented or provoked by our eating patterns.
Carbohydrates and sugar in particular affect the development of cavities. Refined sugars, such as white or brown sugar, are the worst offenders and when possible, should be avoided. Refined sugars can appear on food labels as cane sugar, raw sugar, icing sugar, sucrose, glucose, dextrose, maltose, fructose or corn syrup. These sugars appear in a surprisingly wide range of food products, such as ketchup and even peanut butter.
How Cavities Appear
Bacteria that live in the mouth feed off sugars – especially refined sugars. These bacteria then produce acid, and it is this acid that dissolves the enamel on your teeth. The end result? Cavities.
The key to controlling cavities through diet lies in the frequency of what you eat, rather than the total amount. For example, it is much better for your teeth if you eat a sweet snack such as caramels all in one go, rather than nibbling on them throughout the day. If you snack regularly on sugars, your mouth will stay acidic throughout the entire day, promoting the development of cavities. This also applies to sweetened drinks including coffee and tea containing sugar.
The solution? Eat regular, wholesome meals and choose a non-sweet snack in between meals. If you just have to have your sugar fix, do it once in a while – your mouth will be less acidic and less prone to cavities, and you’ll improve your overall health.