The Hidden Connection Between Your Diet and Your Teeth

The Hidden Connection Between Your Diet and Your Teeth

We all know that sugar and other sugary foods are bad for your teeth, but is this the only thing that can damage your pearly whites? There are also people who tell you that anything that can be converted to sugar, such as starchy and high-carbohydrate foods, can also be bad for your teeth. Is there any truth to this?

Studies have shown that not all carbohydrates are bad for your teeth, although there are some that actually lend some credence to the connection between carbohydrates and tooth decay. There are foods that some people call “bad carbohydrates” and these are the ones that can actually damage your teeth as you eat them. What foods are considered bad for the teeth and which ones don’t really cause that much harm to your enamel?

Foods that are high in the simple sugars glucose and fructose are what you should try to avoid in order to keep your teeth healthy and far from decay. Tooth decay is caused by acid, and this acid is produced by bacteria that feed on these simple sugars. The more obvious sources of these sugars are candy, cakes, pies, and any other sugary stuff you might ingest. The less obvious ones are those that have hidden sugars in them, such as breakfast cereals, cookies and biscuits, bread, and some fruits.

Some people think that sugary fruits, like apples and pears, are also bad for their teeth. These are actually good for a person’s teeth since these are foods that have a rather high water content, which helps stimulate the production of saliva, which is also a substance that helps protect teeth from decay. Acidic fruits, on the other hand, should be consumed with other types of food to help reduce the damaging effects of the acids that these have.

If you have a sweet tooth, and cannot help but crave sweet stuff, you should try to look for those that are made using sugar substitutes. These foods are still as sweet as those that are made with sugar, but are not as damaging since these do not break down in your mouth the same way as sugar. This means that these do not feed the bacteria in your mouth the way sugar does.

Try to be careful about foods that are marked sugar-free or sugarless. These can be very tricky and can still bring about tooth decay due to the fact that these may still be made with natural sweeteners, like honey, molasses, and the like, in them. These foods may be sugarless but are not harmless to your teeth since these natural sweeteners are similar to sugar, and are fed on by bacteria in your mouth the same way.

Ultimately, keeping your teeth protected from decay is all about proper dental care. While eating less of these sugary and sweet things may help reduce your chances of tooth decay, it is still important for you to practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth regularly, floss once a day, and rinse out your mouth with water after you eat anything (especially if you cannot brush your teeth immediately afterwards). Reducing the intake of starchy, sugary foods and bad carbohydrate foods, along with a good dental care regimen, will definitely help in keeping dental problems and decay at bay.

Dr. Allan Hawryluk
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Dr. Allan Hawryluk

Allan Hawryluk Jr. is a Mississauga-based dentist who has built a reputation for comprehensive dental care. Born and raised in Port Credit, he returned after completing his dental residency in 2003 at the University of Colorado, Denver Health Sciences Center. He feels privileged to serve the community and is committed to maintaining our clinic standards set by his late father - Dr. Allan R. Hawryluk (Sr).