“You are what you eat” has been a long-time saying by doctors and parents to try to get patients and loved ones to make good dietary choices. It is important for people to understand that the foods and beverages they choose to consume affects every aspect of their bodies and health. Many people forget that their teeth are affected by their dietary choices, leaving them with cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease – all of which are easily preventable. In fact, tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease, yet it is entirely avoidable.
Tooth decay in children and adults is both caused by dental plaque. If you have ever run your tongue over your teeth late in the day and felt a fuzzy film on your teeth, that is plaque. Plaque is made up of acid-producing bacteria that attack the teeth. While these bacteria initially want to help your mouth out by breaking down food particles that were left behind after eating, once they begin producing acids they go from helpful to harmful.
The bacteria inside the mouth are especially attracted to the sugars left behind after eating and drinking. The bacteria will congregate around the sugars and work overtime to break them down – producing a large amount of acid in the process. When the acids come in contact with the tooth enamel and gums, they begin to eat away at these tissues and cause tooth decay and gum disease. Controlling the amount of sugar in your diet is incredibly important. Not only does a low-sugar diet help prevent diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, but it also prevents damage to the teeth.
A healthy diet should consist of the following:
- Lots of water every day
- Whole grains
- Fruits and vegetables in their natural forms
- Lean sources of meat
- Dry beans and other legumes
- Low-fat dairy products
Your diet truly affects the health of your entire body – including your teeth. At Riverheart Family Dentistry, we want to help you achieve and maintain the healthiest smile possible for life. By making good choices regarding your diet, you can promote optimal oral health one bite at a time.