Tooth decay: it’s one of the most common and most preventable health conditions in the world. If you’re old enough to make your own healthcare decisions there’s a good possibility you already have (or have had) a cavity. At Really Smile Dentistry we see patients with tooth decay all the time, and it isn’t just to have a filling placed – sometimes tooth decay has spent years destroying someone’s mouth!
Keeping Carmel residents mouth healthy has been a constant battle against tooth decay. That’s why we’re writing today’s blog post. We want you to know how easy it is to prevent cavities with just a few lifestyle changes, especially your diet! There are a lot of foods that help tooth decay along, and by limiting them you can save your teeth!
Before we start, it’s important to understand how tooth decay happens so that you know how to stop it! You probably know what plaque is: that sticky feeling on your teeth that builds up throughout the day. Plaque is a film made up of countless bacteria. Those bacteria absolutely love sugar, and when they eat sugary foods that stick in your mouth they produce an acid that weakens and eats away at your tooth enamel. This is the start of tooth decay, and it just keeps getting worse from there!
Cavity Causer #1: Refined Carbohydrates
We’re not going to waste time telling you that sugar causes cavity – you’ve probably been told that your whole life. What we are going to tell you is what you might not realize is causing cavities: carbs! Snacks that are made with white flour contain complex carbs, so anything like chips, crackers, pretzels, white bread, and even french fries can all be cavity causers!
The problem lies in the refined carbs. As they break down they turn to sugar, and they don’t always make it to your stomach before that starts to happen! Small particles of food in your mouth feed plaque bacteria pretty quickly, meaning that a snack can attack faster than you’d think!
Cavity Causer #2: Sports Drinks
The game’s over – better reach for a bottle of your favorite cold Gatorade flavor, right? Not if you don’t want to encourage tooth decay! Studies have actually shown that sports drinks can actually be worse on your teeth than pop! By placing teeth in containers of various drinks (Gatorade, Coke, Red Bull, and diet pop) researchers determined that sports drinks were actually the biggest culprit!
The secret lies in the high amount of sugar that sports drinks contain – it’s more than soda! The best solution for the end of a workout, practice, or game is the same it has always been: water.
Cavity Causer #3: Citrus
Whether it’s juice or the fruit itself citrus is delicious, especially in the heat of summer! Of course, since it’s listed here you know there’s a catch: acid. Citrus contains an incredibly high amount of acid, all of which eats away at your teeth and ruins your smile!
This doesn’t mean you have to stop eating citrus, just that you should always keep some water nearby to keep your mouth fresh. One more tip when it comes to citrus: if you eat or drink any don’t brush your teeth for at least a half hour. Acids make your enamel softer, especially in such large quantities, so brushing can actually cause more damage!
Cavity Causer #4: Sticky Foods
It probably doesn’t surprise you that sticky foods are listed here – most of them are just full of sugar! That isn’t actually the biggest problem, but it’s definitely part! The problem with sticky foods is, well, that they’re sticky! That means they’re hanging around in your mouth longer, giving them more time to cause damage!
It’s important to reduce your intake of sticky foods and to also be sure that you are drinking water and being sure to get large chunks out of your mouth quick!
In our next blog we’re going to lighten the mood and tell you all about foods and habits you might already have that are great for your mouth! There are just as many foods that can be great for your oral health, and those deserve a mention too!
If you’re worried about tooth decay, schedule a cleaning and exam at Really Smile Dentistry today! You can reach us by phone at 317-451-4050 or you can request an appointment online! We look forward to seeing you soon!