There is a popular saying, “You are what you eat.” This saying is quite true when it comes to your oral health. What you eat and drink can determine if you end up with oral health diseases or if you keep your teeth all your life. Even the best eating habits can falter in the summer when parties, reunions, vacations and days in the sun are so popular. Here are a few reasons why a healthier summer diet can help your teeth stay healthy, beautiful and strong!
Summertime Means Summer Treats
When you think of past summer memories, is food involved in some of those memories? For many, pies, ice cream, popsicles and foods at summer parties and barbecues are part of their summer experience. These types of treats are more popular in the summer, especially in June and July. In fact, for ice cream sales alone, June and July top the list of the most ice cream sold all year long. However, those summer treats can lead to tooth decay if you’re not careful.
Have you ever looked in the mirror at your teeth and seen clear, cruddy goo around your gum line? That substance is called plaque, and it’s what leads to cavities (tooth decay) and gum disease. When you eat, sugars in your foods and drinks mix with certain mouth bacteria. This creates a sticky, clear and acidic film called plaque, and that plaque sticks straight to your teeth.
Plaque is the substance that causes tooth decay and gum disease, which both cause tooth loss. Tooth decay (cavities) is the most prevalent chronic disease in children and adults according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Gum disease as well affects more than 64.7 million Americans. Both lead to tooth loss and both can be 100% avoided if you brush and floss daily, visit the dentist and limit your sugar intake. For all the summer treats that are sure to be happening, you want to follow a few guidelines to help reduce your risk for any oral health problems now and in the future.
Watch Your Drinks
Love the fizzy bubbles in your soda pop? You may like the taste, but this type of drink is damaging your teeth rather quickly. In both sparkling water choices and sodas, the fizzy bubbles are produced when carbonic acid mixes with water. Because it’s acid, it breaks up the minerals of your teeth. Plus, acids sit on your teeth for 20-30 minutes after drinking, working on that demineralization (so wait that long to brush).
Citrus fruits and drinks will also have the same effect on your teeth, as they contain “citric acid”. You want to wait the same amount of time after eating or drinking citrus so you don’t take extra enamel off the teeth. Check food and drink labels, as many drinks (sports, energy, alcoholic drinks, etc.) have citric acid as a preservative. Sticking to water or milk to have healthier teeth, or sip through a straw with carbonated or citrus drinks.
What’s Good for Your Teeth?
You can help make your teeth healthier by the foods you eat, especially if those foods are dairy products. Here are some foods or drinks that can help you to have healthier teeth:
- Sugar-Free Foods/Treats – Sugar-free options are available for chocolate, ice creams, yogurts, jello, pudding and more. In many cases, the sugar-free options taste just as good as the sugar options.
- Cheese and Milk – When you eat, some minerals are stipped from your teeth by acidic drinks or sugary treats. However, when you choose dairy products like cheese and milk instead of candy and soda, your teeth can gain some minerals back. That’s because the teeth are made of minerals such as calcium and phosphate, which are found in dairy products. Plus, cheese and milk have lower acidic levels than other foods, reducing plaque production.
- Some Teas – Certain teas (like black tea) has been shown to block some of plaque’s ability to clump up in your mouth.
- Healthy foods – When you choose healthy food options such as protein sources, veggies and healthy fats/carbs, you choose less sugary or processed foods. The less sugar you eat because you have a good diet, the less plaque production and tooth decay you will have.
Healthier Teeth Can Be Easy
If you already have gum issues or tooth decay, it may seem like your teeth won’t get back to their perfect state. However, it’s definitely possible with a few dental appointments to correct gum and teeth issues. You can also keep your teeth healthy with health tips such as:
- Brushing your teeth. This is the best way to achieve healthier teeth no matter your age. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day for 2 minutes at a time. Use fluoride toothpaste that is ADA-approved.
- Floss your teeth. 40% of tooth surfaces are missed when you don’t floss! You don’t want that when you’re trying to enjoy your summer. Floss all the way up into your gum line, making sure you scrape your teeth as you go.
- Do fluoride treatments. If you know you’ll indulge in lots of summer treats, ask about fluoride treatments from our office that can help strengthen your teeth. Use mouthwash and toothpastes that contain some fluoride so that your teeth are consistently more protected from food and drinks.
- Minimize your sugar. Summer treats and snacks can damage your teeth quickly. Plan ahead and choose healthy food options that won’t hurt your teeth. Dairy options and nuts are great for building up your teeth without sugar eroding the enamel.
- Visit your dentist! The ADA recommends two visits to the dentist each year for comprehensive exams and dental cleanings to keep your teeth healthy. Do this at the start of summer or at the end of summer to see if your teeth are damaged at all.
For questions about foods, drinks and your teeth, call Dr. Evanson’s office today at (720) 409-0008!Leave a reply →