Oral Health and Nutrition

Nutrition is the cornerstone of our general health — and our dental wellbeing is no different. We all know about the direct impact food can have on our oral hygiene, but there are indirect consequences too.

A healthy diet can lead to healthy teeth in more ways than one.

Stop Snacking

You might think a few nibbles throughout the day wouldn’t be as bad as a plateful eaten all at once, but you’d be wrong. Snacking between meals — particularly on lots of small portions — means your teeth are exposed to food for a larger portion of the day.

Your snacks stay stuck in between and around your teeth for longer, meaning more damage is done before you get around to brushing your teeth.

If you do snack try and brush your teeth or chew sugar free gum to reduce the time sugary foods are in tooth contact.

Diet and Tooth Decay

Although most of us know that sugary foods are bad for your teeth, there are many other aspects of your diet that may increase your risk of tooth decay and other dental problems. If your nutrition is poor, it can have an impact on the overall health of your teeth and gums, quite apart from any direct consequences of foods attacking the teeth after eating.

A good, balanced diet can improve the strength of your teeth and increase your body’s ability to fight off bacteria and infection. Apart from avoiding sugary foods, include plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy and only lean meats in your diet.

Sticky or sweet?

The amount of sugar contained in your food is less important than how long it will stay around your teeth. Foods that dissolve quickly don’t stick to your teeth long enough to cause as much damage.

You might think dried fruit would be better for you than drinking sweetened fruit juice. But although the sugars in fruit juice are not good for your teeth, it is better than dried fruit that can stick to your teeth. The sugars bombard the enamel of your teeth with acids, leading to cavities and tooth decay.

How food attacks teeth

For a balanced diet, we need to eat a wide variety of foods in moderation; including sugars and fats. But certain types of foods combine with the bacteria in your mouth to attack your teeth, leading to decay and cavities.

  • Carbohydrates (eg; sugars) + Bacteria = Acid.
    • The longer the sugars stay on your teeth, the more acid is formed.
  • Too much sugar + too much acid = more than your saliva can neutralise
    • Your saliva helps to wash harmful particles and bacteria from your teeth and neutralize acid attack., But it can easily become overwhelmed if there is too much.
  • Acid + teeth = soft enamel
    • The acid directly attacks the enamel coating of our teeth, weakening it and making it more prone to decay and cavities.
  • Soft enamel = stained teeth and decay
    • Weakened enamel is unable to repel stains. Eventually, more acid and bacteria will eat thorough the enamel to the tooth itself.


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