The phrase, you are what you eat, is in essence, true. Since every food you eat comes into contact with your teeth, you ought to be aware of how different foods and drinks can affect the health of your teeth.

Please note that we're not suggesting that you should never consume any of the foods mentioned in this blog. Some of these are genuinely beneficial to your overall health. However, make sure to limit how much of each of these items you consume to avoid damaging your teeth. And, irrespective of what you are consuming, make sure to maintain proper dental hygiene to help you prevent plaque as well as tooth decay. The following are foods that can cause cavities along with other dental problems.

  • Sugary Foods

We are all gaining more understanding of how excessive sugar consumption can impact your well-being. And if you have ever been to a dentist, you've probably heard about how sugar is bad for both your teeth and gums.

Because all of the food and drinks you consume pass through the mouth, it serves as a battleground for good and bad bacteria. Several studies have revealed that when these dangerous bacteria come into contact with and break down sugar, they generate acids inside your mouth. This means that each time you take sugar, these bacteria produce more acid, which erodes your teeth.

The saliva in your mouth protects you from this harm, but eating a lot of sugar implies there will be even more acid than what your saliva can manage. Acid attacks your teeth causing mineral loss in the tooth enamel, the shiny, protective coating that surrounds your teeth. The acid wears out and damages the enamel over time, leading to cavity formation.

  • Sugar alters your mouth's acidity

Streptococcus sobrinus and Streptococcus mutans are two kinds of harmful bacteria that are found inside the mouth. Both kinds of bacteria thrive on sugars and in turn produce plaque, the sticky film that dentists remove from your teeth at routine cleaning.

If plaque is left undisturbed on your teeth without being removed by brushing, it will ultimately become acidic and end up eroding the enamel.

  • Sugar draws bad bacteria

Sugar, in addition to producing enamel-eating acids, draws the bad bacteria that give rise to gum disease and gingivitis. These illnesses can affect your gums and cause them to recede from the teeth and damage the protective layers that keep your teeth in place

Effects of Solid Sugars

Sugar can be found in a lot more foodstuffs than you might think. It can be found in natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, or honey, and also in processed foods such as brownies and cakes. Foods with a lot of white processed sugars are especially bad because they create a sticky film on your teeth that are too strong for saliva to clear away. Brushing, flossing, using mouthwash, as well as dental cleanings are the only ways to remove this kind of residue.

While the consumption of sugars should be done in moderation, constant snacking on high-sugar foods extends the length of time that your teeth are subjected to the eroding effects of the acids. This leads to tooth decay.

Effects of Sugary Drinks

Consuming sugary beverages might be much more damaging to the teeth than consuming sugary foods. In addition to the acids formed by sugar, most beverages, such as soda, have acids that are detrimental to your teeth.

High-fructose corn syrup-containing beverages are particularly harmful. The sweetening agent, which may be found in a variety of sodas as well as other sugar-sweetened beverages, covers the mouth with toxins and forms a sticky layer over the entire tongue. Bacteria thrive on this layer, producing acids and cavities in the process.

  1. Sticky Foods

Sugar levels in sticky foods are typically high. Sugar, as explained previously, is harmful to teeth by itself. Sticky, chewy foods, on the other hand, pose a twofold threat. Because these foods stick to the teeth and you chew them for longer, the sugar remains in close contact with the teeth for an extended period of time. This in turn harbors more bacteria that cause tooth decay and cavities. Chewy foods, such as caramel, taffy, or even dried fruits, provide a breeding ground for germs, enabling them to thrive and seriously damage your teeth.

  1. Acidic Foods

Sugar is not the only substance that can harm your teeth. Acidic foods and drinks erode your enamel that safeguards your teeth in a process called tooth erosion. Tooth erosion alters the look of your teeth and allows bacteria to enter, potentially leading to cavities or infections.

Tooth erosion is irreversible. Once your enamel begins to deteriorate, you might:

  • Experience pain or tooth sensitivity when drinking extremely hot, cold, or excessively sweet beverages
  • Observe a discoloration of your teeth to a yellowish color
  • Discover that your tooth fillings have been altered
  • Face higher chance for more cavities with time
  • In the most serious circumstances, develop abscesses
  • Suffer from tooth loss, even in the most extreme circumstances

When erosion happens, you may require fillings, a root canal procedure, crowns, or tooth removal. Your dentist can also suggest veneers to improve the appearance of your smile.

Acidic Foods and Beverages to Look Out For

It's important to keep your consumption to a minimum If you're drinking or eating something that's citrus, like an orange, citrus-flavored, sour, or carbonated.

Healthy but acidic foods such as tomatoes or citrus fruits might have mild acidic effects on the enamel surface, so it is advisable to consume them as a part of another meal rather than on their own. Dried fruits, such as raisins, can also create issues since they are sugary and sticky, allowing cavity-causing bacteria to develop acids that destroy teeth even after you have stopped eating them.

Soft drinks, particularly sodas and sports drinks, are still the leading cause of tooth erosion. Because of the carbonation, they are even more prone to be acidic even when they are sugar-free. That bubbly fizz increases the acidity of any beverage, irrespective of the flavor.

Citrus flavorings like lime, lemon, and orange can also contribute to the acidity of beverages. Even natural and healthy beverages such as orange juice or freshly squeezed lemonade have more acid than pure water. Consider making them a once-in-a-while treat rather than having them regularly.

And, while we're on the subject of treats, certain sour candies are nearly as acidic as battery acid, and most contain citric acids that are used to produce that sour effect. So pucker moderately if you enjoy a touch of sourness with your sweet tooth.

  1. Starchy Foods

As you have already seen, candy as well as other sugary foods are clearly unhealthy for your teeth. However, most people are unaware that starchy foods are equally as bad for teeth. The issue with starchy foodstuffs like potato chips, bread, and pasta would be that their sugar content isn't easily known.

Most individuals do not consider how much sugars they are ingesting when binging on a bag full of potato chips, as you would if you were having a bag of sweets instead, since potato chips aren't sweet. The bad news is that they are equally damaging to the teeth just like candy is.

Carbohydrates and Simple Sugars

Carbohydrates like bread and potato chips begin as starches, but when you consume them, they are converted into simple sugars. Certain carbs break down immediately as you chew, while others take longer to be broken down in the digestive system. Sugars from those that are converted into simple sugars in your mouth remain on the teeth till you brush. These carbs, like the sugars in your favorite treats, work along the bad bacteria in the mouth to cause tooth decay. The bacteria combine with the simple sugars in carbs to form acids, which erodes the teeth.

In general, the acid eats away at the minerals in your teeth, forcing them to weaken or demineralize. Carbohydrates do not immediately cause cavities when consumed. The degradation begins when they have been left without being brushed away for an extended period of time. The longer you leave food on your teeth, the more it attracts bad bacteria, leading to an increase in the production of dangerous acids. Foods that cling to the teeth or get stuck in the crevices in the mouth are even more dangerous since they are unlikely to be rinsed away when drinking water or by saliva.

This isn't to say you can't eat carbs or have potato chips occasionally. It means that you need to be mindful of the impact carbs have on your dental health. Drink water as you eat any form of carbohydrate to allow the sugars to be rinsed out, and clean your teeth as soon as possible afterward to reduce the time sugars and bacteria work jointly to produce the damaging acid that triggers tooth decay.

  1. Drying Foods

We are all aware that ingesting excessive sodium raises your risk of high blood pressure, strokes and heart problems, but you might not realize that sodium can irritate your teeth just like sugary treats do.

Although salt doesn't harm the tooth enamel, sodium and carbohydrates when combined, become the main culprits, particularly in processed foods. As mentioned before, when you ingest any foods and beverages that contain carbs, oral bacteria feeds on the simple sugars and releases strong acids. The longer the acids stay in the mouth, the more harm it causes to the tooth enamel.

Sodium can also contribute to teeth weakening. The tissues that make up your teeth, like bones, need calcium for development and vitality. Foods that are high in sodium have been linked to a rise in the quantity of calcium lost through urination, which can then cause osteoporosis as well as tooth loss.

Other drying liquids, such as alcohol, can dehydrate your body by suppressing the production of the Antidiuretic hormone, a hormone that controls how much urine you pass. Drinking alcohol forces your kidneys to excrete more fluids than they usually would, dehydrating your entire body. This can lead to salivary gland atrophy, resulting in a reduction in saliva flow.

That's why, after drinking, many people have some level of dry mouth, often referred to as xerostomia. Periodontitis, a disease marked by a plaque, bleeding gums, gum recession, infections, as well as the formation of pockets whereby the gums peel away from the teeth, thrives in a dry mouth.

Alcohol has a deleterious impact on dental health that extends beyond the gums. People who are addicted to alcohol are at a high risk of developing oral health problems. Heavy drinkers are three times more likely to develop irreversible tooth loss when their plaque levels are higher.

Making Wise Nutritional Choices For Dental Health

Make wise decisions when picking out what to drink and eat for a healthy lifestyle as well as healthy gums and teeth. Minimize between-meal snacking and maintain a well-balanced diet. If you're on a special diet, follow your doctor's recommendations when selecting foods.

Take these suggestions in mind while selecting meals or snacks for optimal dental health:

  • Make sure you drink lots of water
  • Consume a wide range of foods from all of the five main food categories, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, protein-rich foods like lean beef, fish, and skinless poultry, as well as dried beans, peas, among other legumes, dairy products that are low in fat or fat-free

Reduce the quantity of sugary snacks you consume. Snack on something healthy like fruits, vegetables, or even a slice of cheese if you must. Foods that are consumed as a part of another meal cause less damage to your teeth, since more saliva is produced during a meal. Saliva assists in the removal of food particles from the teeth and mouth and reduces the consequences of acids, which destroy teeth and induce cavities.

Brush twice a day using fluoride toothpaste, floss, and see your dentist on a regular basis to maintain proper oral health.

Contact a Dentist Near Me

For more details about the different kinds of foods that are either good or bad for the health of your teeth, or for any other dental health issues, schedule a consultation with our expert dental professionals at Washington Dental. We serve patients in the Los Angeles, Carson, Torrance & Lomita regions of California.