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    • 14 DEC 18
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    Can Poor Nutrition Harm Your Teeth?

    A woman that is touching the side of her mouth and has a look of pain on her face.

    Now, more than ever, the American diet is largely comprised of sugary and processed foods. Those foods can not only hurt your health, but they can hurt your teeth and gums. Part of it is because of the nutrients they lack, which your body and teeth need to stay strong. Use this guide to know about the minerals in your teeth and how they break up.

    All About Your Teeth

    Your teeth are formed before birth and they lie up in the jawbones until the time the teeth start to come in. They are like a cluster of hard minerals that form and harden, getting ready to come into the mouth as a baby grows. This includes the adult teeth, which are up in the jaws behind the baby teeth.

     

    The first set is the baby teeth, and they are small, yet powerful. Infants can start to get their teeth as early as 2-3 months or as late as the second or third year of life. This first set of teeth only consists of 10 teeth on top and 10 teeth on bottom once all the teeth have dropped down into the gums. However, adult teeth will number 32 in your mouth, which includes the 4 wisdom teeth, also known as “third molars”.

     

    The difference in number is because of the size of the mouth. An infant mouth is small and delicate, and it only has room for those 20 small teeth. Over the first few years of life, the mouth will grow as a child grows, and those teeth will begin to fall out starting around age 5. Around age 7 and 8, enough teeth have started to fall out that permanent teeth can start falling into place. The baby teeth have spaced out, and larger teeth will come in. They will be denser and there will be more of them. Dentists can even get a good idea of how your adult teeth will look based on how they start to come into the mouth. That second set of teeth is there for life if you take care of them, which you want to do.

     

    A cup full of sugar with a straw in it with sugar cubes around the cup. There is a measuring tape around the cup.

    Minerals and Your Teeth

    So what are your teeth? Are they bones? Many people do think of the teeth as bones, because they are so hard. However, your teeth are not bones. They are actually harder than bones and are made up of almost pure minerals. One of those minerals is calcium, but magnesium and phosphorus are also major ones in your teeth. Your teeth are about 96% mineral content, which is more than the bones. This is why the teeth are harder than your bones. That, and the fact that your bones are made up of spongy, porous material on the inside, while your teeth are not. Those minerals are hard-packed, especially in the thick tooth enamel layer.

     

    You have three layers of your teeth that include the:

    • Tooth Enamel: This is the hard, outer layer of your teeth and the part that you can see with the naked eye. The enamel is the thickest layer and will make up most of the crown (visible portion) of your teeth. However, there are inner layers that the tooth enamel protects and seals from bacteria.
    • Dentin: This is the second layer of your teeth. It is hard-packed just like the tooth enamel, except that there are microscopic porous areas in it that lead to the innermost part of your teeth. The dentin is the layer that tends to show through if you have thinning tooth enamel. It might appear yellowish or gray with thin teeth.
    • Pulp: Your teeth have a soft center that is small, but very important. The pulp of the tooth is where blood vessels lie that nourish your tooth. You have nerves in that soft center as well that let your body know when decay or infection is in your tooth. It’s those nerves that will give you pain when decay, infection or injury happens.

     

    An image of a dentist's hands pointing at a dental x-ray.

    Your Teeth and Your Nutrition

    When it comes to your teeth, what you eat really matters. When you eat, sugars in your food (and drinks) will mix with mouth bacteria to create plaque. That clear film of plaque will stick to your teeth, and what’s worse is that it is acidic. The acids it creates from that mixture will attack your teeth for 20-30 minutes and then will continue a slow attack when plaque is left on the teeth.

     

    That acidic erosion that happens to your teeth is the breakup of the minerals in your teeth, which weakens them and thins them. That is how decay happens. Acidic foods and drinks (such as citrus and carbonation) will make that worse. That’s because you have plaque acid, plus citric acid or carbonic acid from carbonation that makes the effect even worse.

     

    It’s best to stick to water or milk when drinking. As you eat, minerals from your foods and drinks (especially acidic ones) can stip minerals from your tooth enamel. Your saliva will help continually bathe your teeth in protective minerals, however, if you are drinking and eating good foods. Saliva helps keep the mouth moist and it helps remineralize the teeth when minerals have been stripped away. You get those minerals from healthy foods, especially ones high in the minerals your teeth are made of such as dairy foods with calcium and phosphate.

     

    Better Teeth with Good Nutrition

    You can keep your teeth healthy all throughout life with healthy habits. That means brushing and flossing several times a day, which only takes a few minutes of time. It also means that you eat healthy foods such as dairy products, protein sources, fruits, veggies and whole grains. Studies show that this type of diet will help not only your oral health, but your overall health immensely. For tips on better oral care, call Dr. Evanson’s office today at (720) 409-0008!

     

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