You brush and floss regularly, visit your dentist in Katy, TX for checkups, and generally try to follow good dental hygiene. However, what you might not realize is that your diet can affect how healthy your teeth and gums are. You should work with your doctor and dentist to determine what a healthy diet looks like for you based on your unique circumstances. However, we do have some general information about how food affects your dental health.
Ask Your Dentist in Katy, TX How Your Diet Might Be Affecting Your Dental Health
Just like other parts of your health, your diet can also influence your dental health. While practicing good dental hygiene is one of the most important things you can do to help promote a healthy smile, what you eat can also play a role. Your family dentist can help discuss the specifics of your diet and dental health to help you decide whether you need to make any changes for you and your family.
To understand how diet might affect your dental health, it’s important to talk about what causes two major concerns for dental health: cavities and gum disease. Both of these dental issues come down to bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria can infiltrate gum tissue and cause serious inflammation, leading to gum disease. When it comes to cavities, bacteria create acids that penetrate and break down enamel in your teeth, which can lead to tooth decay. Bacteria naturally exists in your mouth, but the problem typically sets in when it starts to multiply. Dental bacteria can multiply and cause problems when it has access to food that can help it thrive: sugar. Of course, our bodies break all food down into sugar. However, that process may happen faster with some types of food and may encourage bacterial growth in the mouth that lead to cavities and gum disease.
Some Foods Your Dentist in Katy, TX Generally Recommends Avoiding
Understanding the role of bacteria in gum disease and tooth decay, we can look at some foods that might increase the risk for these common dental health problems. Generally, anything that breaks down into sugar really quickly can increase your risk for cavities, gum disease, and many other dental issues. In addition, anything that increases your risk for dry mouth can also increase your risk for cavities.
Your Family Dentist Recommends Eating Sugary Foods in Moderation
You have probably already heard of this, but sugary foods may increase your risk for tooth decay. Foods high in sugar, such as the candy many of us will be munching on next weekend for Halloween, can feed dental bacteria responsible for cavities and gum disease. Remember, sugar is what the bacteria primarily subsists on. Eating sugary candies or goodies is fine in moderation, but eating these foods frequently might lead to more frequent cavities.
Try Avoiding Soda and Other Sugar-Filled Drinks
Sodas and sugary drinks can also increase how much sugar and bacteria are in your mouth. Sodas are full of added sugars and typically offer little in the way of vitamins or minerals. What’s more, many people drink soda throughout the day, so your mouth doesn’t have as much of a break to neutralize the acids produced by the bacteria feeding on sugar from your soda or other sugary beverage. Keep this in mind and try to limit sugary drinks in your diet.
Simple Carbohydrates May Feed Cavity-Causing Bacteria
Simple carbohydrates and starches, like breads, potato chips, or even pasta break down into sugars pretty quickly. Therefore, just as sugary treats with things like sucrose (table sugar) can fuel cavity-causing bacteria, simple carbs may as well. Of course, these aren’t all bad and can be part of a healthy diet, but, once again, moderation is key. Another thing to consider about these foods is that many foods with simple carbohydrates may be quite soft and stick to your teeth for longer.
Beverages that May Dry Out Your Mouth
Another thing that your dentist in Katy, TX may warn you against are beverages that dry out your mouth. Coffee and alcohol are common culprits for this issue. Drinking them occasionally typically won’t cause much harm to your smile. However, frequently drinking coffee and alcohol can lead to chronic dry mouth. Dry mouth reduces saliva in your mouth, which is responsible for getting rid of leftover food particles and counteracting acids made by dental bacteria.
Some Foods May Encourage Healthy Teeth
Just as there are some foods that might be bad for your teeth and gums in excess, there are also some foods that might be good for your teeth. Your family dentist may recommend adding these into your diet to help with dental health.
Dairy Foods May Help
Foods like cheese, plain yogurt, and milk may be helpful for your dental health. These foods are often high in calcium and protein and can also help reduce the acidity in your mouth. Therefore, eating dairy may help keep your smile healthy and strong.
Of course, there are many people who can’t eat dairy because of allergies, sensitivities, or preferences. Fortunately, many nut milks like almond milk or cashew milk are fortified with calcium, protein, and vitamin D. Therefore, you can look for these alternatives if you would rather.
Your Dentist in Katy, TX Recommends Drinking Plenty of Water
Most of us don’t think of water as a food, but it’s important to talk about as we discuss diet. Drinking plenty of water can help flush out small food particles and being hydrated is important for making saliva. In addition, if you’re drinking tap water it’s often fortified with fluoride, which is a mineral that is important for strengthening your teeth. Therefore, drinking plenty of water may be good for your teeth.
Crunchy Veggies May Help with Saliva Production
Crunchy healthy foods like carrots, celery, and apples may also be a great thing to add to your diet for dental health. They are often full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are good for your body and for your dental health. Crunchy fruits and vegetables also help increase saliva production which, as we know, is important for fighting cavity-causing bacteria.
Tea May Help Fight Dental Bacteria
Green and black tea may also help your dental health. Tea often contains polyphenols, which are nutrients that can actually help kill or block bacteria in your mouth. Of course, tea can also contribute to surface stains on your teeth and some contain caffeine, which can contribute to dry mouth. Nevertheless, in moderation it may help with your dental health.
Other Diet-Related Tips For a Healthy Smile from Our Dentist in Katy, TX
In addition to eating a healthy, balanced diet, there are a few other things you can do in your everyday life that may help your dental health, such as:
- Try to limit snacking, it can cause plaque acids throughout the day
- Follow proper dental hygiene by brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist in Katy, TX regularly
- When you eat sweets, try to do so near a meal while you have more saliva in your mouth
- Consider sweets with sugar alternatives, like the artificial sweetener xylitol
- Brush your teeth regularly, but wait about an hour to brush after a meal, as the acids in your mouth after eating can make your enamel more vulnerable to damage
- Consider following up sweets with one of the foods that help promote dental health, like a piece of cheese
Need a Dentist in Katy, TX? Visit The ToothBooth for Quality Dental Care
Our team at The ToothBooth are here to help you keep your smile healthy. Our dentist, Dr. Taha, offers years of experience providing dental care for patients of all ages. Whether you need a pediatric dentist near Katy, a dentist to help with preventative dentistry, or an emergency dentist for a serious dental issue, we are here to help. Get in touch today to book an appointment!