If you practice regular oral hygiene, you’re already taking a great step towards your own health. Yet you may be surprised to learn that what you’re eating can have a negative impact on your teeth and gums. Recent studies show that poor dental hygiene is linked to an increased risk of dementia, an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, greater likelihood of developing diabetes and many other health problems.
Acid products from oral bacteria are a major cause of decay, and certain foods are linked to high levels of bacteria.
Below is a list of some of the major foods that contribute to poor oral health. Eliminate these foods from your diet to take a major step towards ensuring that you don’t develop some serious dental health problems later in life.
Foods that contain sugar contribute to tooth decay, which also leads to enamel erosion. Plaque thrives on the sugars in the food we eat. Nearly all foods contain some form of sugar, and those added sugars are mostly found in the soda, candy and cookies you eat.
Certain carbs, such as those found in pastries, pretzels, white bread and bagels, also contribute negatively to dental health. In addition, many sugars also contain refined carbs, which coat your teeth and lead to cavities. Eating candy and regularly chewing gum ups the risk of dental problems later in life.
Foods that have high amounts of acid, such as soda, wine, tomato and lemon juice, can cause teeth decay and erosion. Many acidic foods, such as fruits, squash, yogurts, pickles and vinegary items are okay to eat, but make sure you give your teeth a good brushing or gargle some water after you mow them down to eliminate as much of the acid as possible.
* Drinking through a straw serves as a neat trick to helping reduce acid erosion because it will move the acid past your teeth and into your throat.
Rather than scarfing down high-sugar foods like candy, gum and fruity yogurts, replace them with healthier alternatives. Choose plain yogurt, cheese and sugarless gum instead. These snacks are low in sugar and don’t stick to your teeth.
If you like healthy carbohydrates, replace your bread and pretzels with whole wheat crackers and cheese to neutralize acid in the mouth.
Replace highly acidic foods with carrot and celery sticks, which are packed with nutritious fiber. These veggies are nature’s toothbrushes, and they are some of many foods you can chomp on for the greatest natural oral health benefits.
Sparkling teeth can lead to healthy waistlines, so replacing foods that increase your risk of bad dental hygiene with some healthier alternatives is an important way you can improve your overall health.
QUESTION: What’s one snack food that you eat regularly that you feel like contributes to poor dental health? What will you replace it with?
Author: Jennifer Vishnevsky
Jennifer Vishnevsky is an award-winning journalist covering topics such as lifestyle, health, dentistry, business and entertainment. She is currently a contributing writer to Everyday Health, a provider and publisher of health and wellness information, and Top Dentists, which takes the expertise of Everyday Health and dedicates it solely to dental services, dental professionals and patients.