If your diet is low in the nutrients your body needs, your mouth may have a more difficult time resisting infection. A poor diet can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.
Eventually these acids can cause tooth enamel to break down, forming a cavity. Foods that contain sugars of any kind can contribute to tooth decay.
Foods That Protect Against Decay
- Cheese: Consuming cheese after a sugary snack prevents increase in acidity. Cheese stimulates saliva and is rich in calcium influencing the balance of re-calcifying teeth and protecting against loss of calcium.
- Cow’s Milk: Contains lactose, which is less acid producing than other sugars and does not promote decay as readily. In addition, it also contains calcium, phosphorus, and casein, all of which help stop decay. However bottle-feeding milk at night can cause decay.
- Human Breast Milk: Contains 7% lactose and is lower in calcium and phosphate. It generally does not initiate decay except in cases of high frequency nighttime feeding and prolonged on demand feeding.
- Plant Foods: Are fibrous and protect teeth by mechanically stimulating saliva. Peanuts, hard cheeses, and gum that contains xylitol can act the same way.
- Black & Green Teas: Are particularly rich in polyphenols and flavonoids, which are complex antioxidant compounds found in many plant foods. The fluoride in black tea may also protect against decay.
- Chocolate: There is some evidence that cocoa in an unrefined form (without added sugars) may have some anti-decay potential due to polyphenolic compounds present, but processed chocolate is too high in sugar to be good for the teeth.
Looking after your teeth is important if you want them to last a lifetime! Sticking to a nutritionally sound diet that is low in free sugars, high in fiber — lots of fruits and vegetables — and drinking plenty of water (preferably fluoridated) will safeguard your oral and dental health as well as your general health and well-being.