HEALTHY MOUTH TIPS
Keeping Your Mouth Healthy As You Eat
When it comes down to it, protecting your teeth from dental decay takes more than just a toothbrush and floss. While brushing and flossing are great preventative measures, you must also be cautious of the foods and drinks that you consume. If you have poor nutrition overall, you may notice that your teeth suffer from dental decay, sensitivity, or your gums may be irritated and upset. This is because the foods we eat coupled with dental care influence how healthy our mouth is. Starches and sugars from the foods we eat are dangerous to our teeth, especially if they are not removed promptly. Continued poor dental hygiene can lead to gum disease, tooth loss, and other negative side effects.
While we mentioned what you eat has an affect on your teeth, so does how often you eat. Did you know that eating a handful of sweets AT dinner time is LESS harmful than consuming them several hours after your meal? Below, Dr. Steve S. Kim will share some knowledge about how food affects your smile and overall oral health.
Immediate Effects of Food on Your Teeth
From the moment you take a bite of food, changes start to happen. Bacteria will start to work its magic and create plaque that forms on your teeth. The plaque eventually becomes acidic and then damages the enamel on your teeth and starts to create cavities.
So, how exactly does this all happen? Science! Carbohydrates tend to break down into other substances known as maltose, lactose, fructose, and glucose. You may also know these as sugars. When the carbohydrates team up with the bacteria in your mouth, acid forms and it sticks to your teeth, destroys the teeth, and irritates the gums.
Some of the most common carbohydrate responsible for this include:
- Soft drinks
- Sugary breakfast cereals
Acid is formed when the carbohydrates from these foods and your mouth’s bacteria meet one another. The acid then works to demineralize your teeth. Naturally, your mouth remineralizes your teeth over time but sometimes, the acid works quicker than your mouth can. This is how decay starts.
The longer than this acidic plaque remain on your teeth, the more damage that is done. And, it is irreversible damage too.
As a dentist, the best advice that Dr. Kim gives is to pay attention to the type of food you consume and when you consume it. When you snack on foods such as potato chips, you are risking your oral health. The reason? The chip gets stuck in between your teeth and often sits there for hours at a time, which means the carbohydrates and bacteria in your mouth are teaming up and attacking your teeth. Raisins, fruit snacks, and other chewy foods have the same effect.
Picture: Motion Array
The acid that is produced from the bacteria that resides in your mouth can remain on your teeth for 30 minutes AFTER you consume a food or drink.
Also, if you are someone who likes to sip on coffee, soft drinks, or fruit juices throughout the day or suck on candy or mints, your teeth are at risk. Studies that have been conducted show that there is a positive correlation between individuals who snack throughout the day and the number of cavities in their mouth. Dr. Kim wants you to stop and think about that for a moment.
If you do find that you need something to snack on during the day, try a sugar-free candy to help hold you over until your next meal.
Snacking Does Have Long-Term Effects on Your Teeth
There are long-term effects that poor oral care and poor snacking can have on your teeth including dental decay, bad breath , gum disease, and tooth loss. Often, when patients have both poor oral health and poor nutritional health, there are problems see in other places than just the mouth. It is important for you to take care of your gums and teeth AND eat right to ensure the best possible oral health.
The Team at Dr. Steve S. Kim, DDS Can Help You
If you have questions about your oral health or you would like to learn more about how snacking can affect your teeth, reach out to our dental team in Torrance, CA. Dr. Steve S. Kim is here to help you along the way and keep your smile as bright and beautiful as you! Call us today.