Eating Properly For Your Teeth


Preventing cavities is not just about good dental hygiene; it also is about what you eat and when you eat it. When you eat during meals the food does not stay on your teeth as long as when you eat in between meals. So if you have to have a sweet, it is better to have it with your meal than in between meals. Most people brush only after meals. Since it only takes about 20 minutes for plague to start forming on your teeth and to begin to damage enamel if you eat between meals and do not brush until after the next meal a lot of time will have passed from the time you eat your snack to the time you next brush your teeth.

All carbohydrates break down into simple sugars and the process starts in your mouth. Bacteria on your teeth that live in your mouth use the sugars from these foods to produce acids. It is these acids that can cause tooth decay. The longer the food remains on the teeth, the more acid is produced. Removing the food particles takes the simple sugars out of the acid equation. People who drink sweetened coffee or other sugary beverages throughout the day keep a steady supply of sugar on their teeth for the bacteria to cling to.

Certain foods help to increase the amount of saliva in your mouth and saliva helps to wash away bacteria. Some food like aged cheese helps to buffer the acid and this helps to prevent cavities if eaten at the end of a meal. Your mouth depends on good nutrition to stay healthy.

For overall good health for your body and your mouth it is important to follow the guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, which basically says:

Eat whole grains daily, such as brown rice, oatmeal and whole wheat bread instead of refined grains, such as white bread and white rice.

Eat healthier vegetables, including dark green and orange vegetables.

Eat a variety of fruits.

Choose a diet with plenty of grain products, fruits and vegetables.

Choose fish, beans, nuts and seeds for some of your protein needs.

Choose beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugars.

Choose and prepare foods with less salt.

If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.

Aim for a healthy weight and be physically active each day.

These guidelines when followed will keep your body healthy which in turn helps to keep your mouth healthy. It is important to remember these guidelines and to choose your food carefully. Watch out for eating between meals and if you do so, please remember to chew sugarless gum or to rinse your mouth with water to help remove some of the food particles and sugar. The connection between the food that you eat and the health of your teeth and gums is amazingly close. You need healthy teeth to enjoy food and you need healthy food choices to protect your teeth.