Dishing Up a Dental Friendly Diet
You might be surprised to know that your diet not only affects your whole body health, but also the health of your mouth. Everything you eat plays an important part in your oral health. Some of the everyday foods that you eat affects the condition of your mouth, including your gums and teeth. Foods high in sugar can cause decay, foods that have a high acid content can cause enamel erosion, certain vegetables and drinks can cause surface staining, and hard foods can cause a tooth to break.
Let’s look at oral health issues as an epidemic, here are some interesting factoids about American’s mouths:
• 1 in 4 Americans have untreated tooth decay
• 80% of Americans have at least 1 cavity by age 17
• 66% of adults over 45 have lost a tooth from decay
• Approximately 164 million work hours are lost each year due to dental issues
• 75% of adults have gum disease
These are staggering, one of the most common causes of tooth decay is sugar, the biggest culprit being soda. A single can of orange soda has 11.9 teaspoons, or 48 grams, of sugar. To put that in perspective, the daily maximum sugar consumption for a child is 12 grams. One can of orange soda is almost 4 days’ worth of sugar intake for a child. Let’s say you “only” drink 1 can of soda a day, that equals 50 extra pounds of sugar in a year’s time. The recommended daily maximum for a woman is 20 grams of sugar per day, the average woman consumes 89 grams daily.
The second largest culprit would be chewy, sticky candies. These tend to stick in the deep grooves of molars and are difficult to remove, even with regular brushing. A single serving bag of skittles contains the same amount of sugar as a can of Mt Dew. YIKES!!
Soda and Candy are the obvious causes of tooth decay, but there are other foods that are not as obvious. These sneaky foods include fruit juices, milk, fruit, and constant snacking. I know what you are thinking “these foods are healthy for me and my children and you are crazy” While these foods are healthy, they need to be consumed in moderation. Fruit juice should be limited to once a day, breakfast is a good time to get these in. Milk is a great option for a drink, but should be drank with meals, that glass of milk before bedtime needs to be followed with a thorough brushing and flossing. While being healthy drink options, these still contain natural sugars, that can cause tooth decay.
Saliva’s job in our oral health is to keep the PH balance in our mouth neutral. If you are constantly snacking throughout the day, saliva is unable to do its job. A good rule is 3 meals and 2 healthy snacks a day. With regular trips to the dentist, brushing, flossing, and a healthy diet you can keep those pearly whites gorgeous!