How does the food you eat cause tooth decay?
When good goes into your mouth, it meets the germs and bacteria that live there. You may have heard your dentist talk about plaque. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria.
These bacteria love sugars and starches found in many foods. When you don’t clean your teeth after eating, plaque bacteria use the sugar and starch to produce acids that can destroy the hard surface of the tooth, called enamel. After a while, tooth decay occurs. The more often you eat and the longer foods are in your mouth, the more damage occurs.
How do I choose foods wisely?
Some foods that you would least expect contain sugars or starches. Some examples are fruits, milk, bread, cereals and even vegetables.
The key to choosing foods wisely is not to avoid these foods, but to think before you eat. Not only what you eat but when you eat makes a big difference in your dental health. Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks. If you are on a special diet, keep your physician’s advice in mind when choosing foods. For good dental health, keep these tips in mind when choosing your meals and snacks.
What are tips for better dental health?
To get a balanced diet, eat a variety of foods. Choose foods from each of the five major food groups:
- breads, cereals and other grain products
- meat, poultry and fish
- milk, cheese and yogurt
Limit the number of snacks that you eat. Each time you eat food that contains sugars or starches, the teeth are attacked by acids for 20 minutes or more.
If you do snack, choose nutritious foods, such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt, or a piece of fruit.
Foods that are eaten as part of a meal cause less harm. More saliva is released during a meal, which helps wash foods from the mouth and helps lessen the effects of acids.
Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste that has the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance.
Clean between your teeth daily with floss or inter-dental cleaners.
Visit your dentist regularly. Your dentist can help prevent problems from occurring and catch those that do occur while they are easy to treat.
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