Daily brushing and the regular use of aids such as dental floss are not the only important factors for healthy teeth. Diet also has a significant impact on dental health. It doesn’t just depend on what you eat and drink, but also when and how often. The following guide lists the most important points to look out for in relation to dental care when it comes to nutrition.
Sugar and acid – the great enemies of teeth
Sugar and acid are a great risk to teeth if they are on the teeth too long and too often. Then they favor holes or tooth erosion. Therefore, they should be kept as far away as possible. Refined sugar is very easy to use for the caries bacteria, so that, in the worst case, the teeth can be damaged quickly. As tooth decay progresses, dental disease often affects the dentin and nerve as well. The possible consequences: toothache and, in the worst case, the dentist pulls the tooth due to the damage caused. This can go so far that sooner or later dentures will be necessary. If you have not taken out additional dental insurance, you have to pay a lot of money out of your own pocket.
Therefore, it is important to limit sugar consumption. Caries bacteria mainly feed on sugar or the carbohydrate sucrose. The bacteria are actually harmless, but they secrete acid that attacks the teeth. When it comes to sugar, we are not only talking about ordinary table sugar, because it is known to be contained in many other foods, for example:
- Lemonade and cola
- Sweets like chocolate and fruit gums
- Prepared sauces and other prepared meals
Brush your teeth at least 30 minutes after eating
In addition to sugar, carbohydrates are also a danger, as starch is broken down into simple sugars by enzymes in the mouth. Sugar provides the ideal breeding ground for bacteria that promote tooth decay. How often you consume sugar is crucial for the development of tooth decay. If you eat sweets over and over again throughout the day, the bacteria permanently attack your teeth. At best, sweets are only eaten with main meals or only once a day in order to reduce the risk of tooth decay. This is much more gentle on your teeth.
Due to the acid production, you should also wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth thoroughly after consuming the sweets, as the acids soften the tooth surface. If you brush your teeth directly, you harm them, because the abrasion of the tooth surface is very strong. After half an hour, however, the enamel has recovered and strengthened from the acid attack.
Sugar combined with acid increases the risk
The consumption of sugar in combination with acidic foods creates an even greater danger. Acid simply softens the tooth enamel. The tooth is more vulnerable to caries bacteria. Acid can be found in:
- Fruits like lemons, kiwis and oranges
- Fruit juices
- Soda and cola
- Wine, especially white wine
- Salads that contain vinegar
With fruit, too, it is therefore best to eat a larger amount once a day than numerous small portions spread over the whole day. In order to meet the need for fruit and vegetables and their important nutrients, you should also use low-acid fruit and vegetables. Acidic foods weaken the enamel and, in the worst case, damage the dentin below. If you consume a lot of sugar frequently and throughout the day, you ensure that the bacteria produce more acid.
Lemonades, cola and juices are a great danger: You often drink a sip from time to time, but these drinks contain not only sugar, but also acids. Fruits are also a risk. It should also be noted that sweets that say “sugar-free” do not contain any sugar, but they do contain carbohydrates, which bacteria may also ferment into acids. After consuming these foods and drinks, it is best to rinse your mouth with lukewarm water and only brush your teeth 30 minutes later so as not to damage the damaged tooth surfaces.
Nicotine and coffee
Nicotine and too much coffee are also bad for your teeth. It is therefore best to restrict these stimulants significantly or at least avoid smoking entirely. The toxins contained in the cigarettes encourage bacterial growth. The risk of developing gingivitis is approximately five times higher in smokers. Those who cannot or do not want to give up smoking should, at best, take better care of their teeth to minimize the risk.
Fluoride, calcium and phosphate as protection for the teeth
Since fluoride strengthens and hardens tooth enamel and makes teeth more resilient, it is good if it is part of the diet. For example, fluoride is found in fluoridated table salt, fluoride-rich mineral water, legumes and fish such as salmon. The important substance is also found in toothpastes and other dental care products such as mouthwash. Cheese is a very healthy food for teeth, as the minerals and proteins it contains help the enamel to remineralize quickly. The fat contained in the cheese forms a protective film on the surface of the tooth and also stimulates the flow of saliva, which transports the harmful substances away.
Calcium is also very important for the body. The teeth and bones largely consist of this mineral. If there is a deficiency, the risk of teeth becoming brittle and attacking the enamel increases. As a result, tooth decay forms faster. The body cannot make it itself, so it has to be ingested through food. Calcium-containing foods are best on the menu every day. These include, for example:
- Dairy products
- fresh, green vegetables like kale, broccoli, spinach and fennel
- Nuts and seeds, such as almonds and sesame seeds
- Mineral water
Dental caries is a diet-related disease, similar to obesity and high blood pressure. Even with small changes in diet, everyone can easily achieve a lot of positive things for their own dental health.