Tooth enamel is one of the main functional tissues that we as humans have within our teeth. It is composed of minerals, organic material and water.
Despite enamel being one of the hardest substances in the human body, it can also be subject to demineralization. When someone gets a cavity, they are subject to enamel loss, as the sugars in most foods cause tooth decay. In addition, cavities are caused by the acids in certain foods and drinks, and these acids can greatly dissolve tooth enamel.
First, it is important to understand that sugar interacts with bacteria in your mouth to form the acid which deteriorates enamel. This process forces your teeth to be subjected to deterioration at least 30 minutes after you ingest a product with sugar, including the possibility of tooth infection. Therefore, if at all possible, try to brush your teeth, or at minimum floss, in between and/or immediately after meals.
In addition, remember that it isn’t the amount of sugar you consume in one sitting that affects your teeth; it is the amount you consume throughout the day. For example, it is more harmful to drink soda throughout the day, versus drinking a can of soda at lunch. Also, it is better to eat junk food with a meal that contains nutrients, versus eating the junk food by itself. And unlike the health rule that says it’s better to consume your food and drink slowly, dental rules suggest that eating foods slowly can actually increase tooth decay. This means that taking one sip of soda will still produce as much acid erosion in your mouth as drinking a whole can.
Taking a multi-vitamin will unfortunately not suffice or replace the ingestion of actual foods which contain the vitamins you need. Remember, your body AND your teeth both need vitamins and minerals in order to stay healthy. This means eating foods that are whole grain and/or unrefined.
In addition, foods with an “organic” label may fool you into thinking you’re eating something healthy, but this isn’t always the case. Be sure to read the nutrition facts an ingredients on any product labeled as “soy” or “organic,” to be sure you’re getting the vitamins you need.
While it may be obvious that candy contains sugar, and cigarettes are bad for your teeth, here I’m going to provide a full list of specific foods to try and avoid if you want to prevent enamel loss and overall tooth decay. Although it may be difficult to avoid ALL of these foods, even making small changes in your diet can help, such as avoiding anything chewy or sticky, or switching to brown rice or wheat bread instead of white.
Remember: You are more at risk for dental problems when you already have existing ones. Try brushing at least twice a day, change your toothbrush or toothbrush head frequently, and floss often.
Foods to Avoid:
Candy/Candy Bars (including Gummy Bears, Cough Drops, Lifesavers)
Cereal (especially sugar-filled)
Fast Food Burgers
Meat/Eggs (non-grass fed)
Evaporated Cane Juice
Sandwiches Using a Bread Base
Tofu (in large amounts)
Drinks to Avoid:
Sodas (even diet)
Foods that can HELP with Oral Health: