Foods aren’t “bad” or “good.” There isn’t a moral side to what you eat. But there are some foods that can have a positive or negative health impact on your body, mind, and teeth.
Dental health is part of your overall health. So it makes sense to consider how your diet impacts your teeth. Here are a few foods you might want to consider cutting back on to help keep your mouth healthier.
It’s a common myth that sugar rots your teeth. It’s more true that sugar feeds the bacteria that live in your mouth, which form a fuzzy layer of plaque over the surface of your teeth. If you don’t clean the plaque off properly, it forms hard tartar, which leads to cavities and gum disease. So while the sugar may not be what rots your teeth, it still isn’t good for them without good oral hygiene.
Any food that sticks to your teeth, whether it’s sugary or not, can lead to problems down the line if you don’t clean your mouth well. Sticky food like taffy, peanut butter, raisins, honey, or soft cheese can all get deep in between your teeth and lead to plaque buildup if you don’t brush thoroughly.
Soda is a major offender here because it’s sweet and contains acids that make it fizzy (also not great for your teeth in large quantities over time). But don’t forget to check the ingredients in sports drinks and juices. They also contain a lot of sugar that sticks to your teeth when you drink them.
Not all sugar is sweet. Complex carbohydrates, like pasta and bread, also form sugars at a molecular level. And starch works the same way, so even potato chips and French fries can have a negative impact on your dental health. If you are munching on potato chips, take extra care when you brush and floss to get food particles off of the bite surfaces and in between your teeth.
Alcohol also turns into sugar when your body processes it, so it can have the same impact on your mouth as sugary drinks. And cocktails, hard lemonade or iced tea, and wine coolers can all have sugar added to them without you noticing. But beyond that, alcohol also dries out your mouth, decreasing the amount of saliva you produce. That dry environment makes it easier for bacteria to grow—which is also a good reason to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water if you’re having an alcoholic beverage or two.
While it’s true that your diet does impact your oral health, there’s a bigger takeaway here. Any food can lead to plaque buildup. But the best way to remove plaque and food particles that feed bacteria is with regular oral care, like brushing twice daily and flossing at least once a day.
Another big contributor to overall oral health is regular visits to a dentist for an exam and cleaning. This is also a big preventative care strategy to help limit intense dental procedures down the line, like gum surgery and root canals. Community Health Partners dental clinics in Bozeman and Livingston can help you schedule those checkups to keep your mouth healthy. Make an appointment, or stop by during the walk-in emergency dental clinic when you need urgent care.