Is All Food Bad for Your Teeth?

woman looking at chocolate guiltilyIt’s no secret that everything you eat and drink will have some kind of influence on your dental health, whether it’s staining your teeth (like coffee and wine) or increasing your risk of cavities (like sugar). While all food can be bad for your teeth if it lingers around long enough, some foods and beverages are actually helpful, and sometimes necessary, to maintain your good dental health. The key to knowing which foods are helpful and which are harmful is knowing how nutrition interacts with your dental health on a microbial level.

Nutrition and Dental Health

Even when you can’t see or feel it, plaque is a constantly-developing nuisance that contains (and is made largely from) hundreds of kinds of oral bacteria. As living organisms, these bacteria consume and metabolize nutrients, just like your body does. Foods that are considered harmful tend to feed these oral bacteria, like sugars that fuel the bacterial production of tooth-eroding acids. Foods that are considered beneficial, however, provide important minerals and nutrients that your teeth, gums, jawbone, and other oral structures need to remain strong and healthy. Sometimes, food can even actively fight the negative influences of harmful bacteria.

What Harms Your Teeth

As you may already know, sugar is one of the most demonized substances for its ability to lead to cavity development. The true culprit, though, is acid, which can be introduced by foods and beverages that are already acidic, or that contain sugar and other carbs that can be converted into acids, like;

  • Sodas, fruit juices, and sports and energy drinks
  • Candy (especially hard or chewy candy, which can stick your teeth)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Most fast food choices

What Helps Your Teeth

Your tooth enamel (the resilient outer layer of your teeth), your teeth’s main structures, and the jawbone that supports your teeth and gums all require ample amounts of calcium and phosphate, among other nutrients, to stay strong. Good sources of tooth-healthy minerals and vitamins include;

  • Chocolate (which also contains antioxidants that help fight harmful oral bacteria)
  • Whole milk
  • Fortified orange juice (drink through a straw to reduce your teeth’s exposure to citric acid)
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt (go with the sugar-free kind)
  • Chicken, beef, and turkey
  • Lettuce, kale, and other leafy vegetables

ABOUT YOUR NORTH RICHLAND HILLS DENTIST:

With over 25 years of professional experience, Dr. Steven M. Huffstutler and his caring team proudly provide exceptional preventive, cosmetic, and restorative dental treatment to patients and their families across Dallas/Ft. Worth, including North Richland Hills, Denton, the Mid-cities, Southlake, and all surrounding communities. We also have extensive experience helping patients find relief from painful TMJ disorders (various forms of jaw dysfunction). To schedule an appointment with Dr. Huffstutler, contact our office today by calling 817-577-1444.