We are what we eat, and to a large extent the nature of our diet is reflected in the size of our waistline and in the energy that keeps us going throughout the day. However, there is one other thing which our eating habits strongly affect, and that is the state of our teeth. What we eat (and how we eat it) can have a big impact on how many cavities we get and how bad they are, and what’s good for our bodies isn’t always what’s good for our teeth.
Here are a few things to keep in mind the next time you think about your next visit to your dentist and how many cavities you may need to fill:
There’s plenty of overlap between a healthy diet and one that’s good for your teeth. Whole, unprocessed grains have fewer simple sugars by volume, and while fruits may be high in fructose, they’re also full of water which helps dilute the problem. Vegetables and protein foods like beans, meat, and cheese are also good choices. Milk happens to be a great choice, since the calcium and potassium it contains more than make up for the presence of the sugar lactose.
Avoid Sweet Snacking
Sugars can persist in your mouth for up to half an hour after you finish eating. That’s not something you can really help unless you rinse your mouth out immediately after every meal, and if you eat your sweets along with your meals, it’s not very important.
However, if you’ve developed the habit of popping a new hard candy into your mouth every thirty minutes, then all of a sudden you’re giving the enamel-dissolving bacteria on your teeth a full day’s worth of food. Snacking is a good way to keep your belly full so you don’t eat calorie-heavy food as often, but for the sake of your teeth you should avoid snacking on sweets or grains. Instead, try sticking with nuts and vegetables.
Clean Your Teeth
Getting a bit of food trapped between your teeth doesn’t just detract from your smile, it also provides the bacteria in your mouth with a persistent source of food. Even if you don’t brush immediately after every meal, you should at least use a toothpick to clear out whatever’s sticking in and between your teeth.
It’s always important to eat right and exercise, but you should also keep your teeth in mind when you’re deciding on your diet. If you can make the right choices and stick by them, your teeth may last just as long as you.