Dieting Tips for Healthy Teeth
"You know it's going to be a good day when your morning berries are shaped like teeth" - Said a famous hygienist to her
husband over breakfast."
Did you know one of the first people who can tell you've made a diet change is your Dental Professional? Both negative diet changes and positive, healthy diet changes have an effect on your mouth. With New Year's resolutions in play, here are some things to watch out for with new diets:
- Fruit Consumption
- Fruit Infused Water
- Sports Drinks [to fuel new work outs]
- High-Frequency/Low Intake Diets
What you need to know: Teeth are more susceptible to breakdown [cavity formation] when the pH level in your mouth dips below 5.5. pH what? Back to middle school science class. The pH scale has values from 1-14 and shows the difference between acids and bases; acids are lowest on the scale, bases are the higher numbers, and 7 is neutral. Naturally, your saliva keeps your mouth within the 6.5-7.5 range, it's what you put in your mouth that changes the pH.
Fruit: There are so many benefits to fruit for the body, but fruits tend to have more acidity. Try drinking a glass of regular water before and after eating foods that have a high acid content to help aid your saliva in bringing the pH back to normal as quick as possible. The less time your teeth sit in an acid bath, the lass time cavities have to form. Protein and dairy products also help to coat the teeth to protect them from the low pH, so a fruit and cheese plate is a perfect -and delicious - snack option.
Fruit-infused water: I've seen a lot of this going around on Pinterest and Instagram especially with lemons. First, bravo for diluting the acidity of the lemons, but you've still made the neutral water acidic. Drink with a straw to bypass the teeth, and be sure to start off and finish with a glass of water.
Sports drinks: Do I even have to go here? Short version: sugar helps cause cavities, sports drinks are full of sugar. Water is really your best option for hydration, but if you need a boost from a sports drink, try to at least rinse with water after!
High-Frequency/Low Intake Diets: These have become very popular in the past 5 years. The goal is to eat less more frequently to keep your hunger satisfied without ever overeating at a meal. This doesn't seem like a problem, especially if you're trying to lose weight. What it doesn't take in to account is what I just taught you about pH. The goal is to keep your mouth's pH around 7 so that the bad bacteria can't work it's magic on your teeth. After each drink, meal, snack, etc. it takes your saliva around 20-30 minutes to return back to normal. Eating makes your pH low, and with minimal recovery time before the next "meal" - your pH stays low which provides more opportunity for the bad bacteria to form cavities. If you've chosen to take this step to help lose weight, be sure to drink plenty of water before and after your meals to help your mouth regulate quicker!
Very Important Note: You may have noticed I never once said, "brush your teeth," at any point. This is not because I don't want you to brush your teeth, I just don't want you to when your acid level is high. Although it may seem like a brilliant idea to brush your teeth to help return your pH level to normal quicker [since toothpaste is basic], it's not! Your teeth, like your skin, are porous and acid opens those pores up by eroding the enamel. If there is any acid still in the mouth coating the teeth, then brushing your teeth would be just like forcing the acid further in to those pores. Rinsing with water helps the saliva return the mouth to the normal pH level but it still may take a few minutes. It's best to drink or rinse with water, wait at least 15 minutes, rinse with water again, then brush.
Most Important Takeaway: Water is your best friend. Especially fluoridated water. Fluoride helps to remineralize spots on the teeth that acids from food and drinks may have eroded.
More Tips from dentalcare.com:
- To reduce cariogenicity of the diet, for adults suggest limiting eating events to three times a day with no more than two between meal snacks and eliminating highly retentive foods such as crackers, chips, and soft candies.
- For children who need the energy provided by between meal snacks, they should be healthy food choices low in cariogenic potential such as cheese, raw vegetables, meat roll-ups, and fresh fruit.
- When oral hygiene does not follow a meal, suggest ending a meal with cheese or milk, chewing gum with xylitol, or rinsing with water.
- To stimulate salivary flow, include cool, sour, or tart nutrient dense foods (sugar free), increase water intake, and suck on sugar free mints.
- Incorporate low-fat, calcium rich foods in the diet, spaced throughout the day for the best absorption rate.
Special thanks to dentalcare.com for always providing free, relevant continuing education courses!
Ps. In Case You Were Wondering..
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