The fact is, certain foods are bad for your teeth and can accelerate decay and bacteria growth. But how much do you really know about the connection between your diet and your teeth? This Dental Health Week, we examine the role your diet plays in maintaining good oral hygiene and how to manage your intake for a healthy smile.
Is tooth decay a big problem in Australia?
When it comes to the numbers for decayed, missing or filled teeth, the news isn’t great:
- Australian adults aged 15 years and over had an average of 11.2 decayed, missing and filled teeth in 2017–18
- Around 1 in 3 (32%) adults aged 15 and over with their own teeth have at least one tooth with untreated dental decay.
- Around 4 in 10 (42%) Australian children aged 5–10 had dental caries in their deciduous teeth, and around 1 in 4 (27%) had at least one deciduous (baby) tooth with untreated decay.
- 36% of New South Wales children aged 5-10 experienced tooth decay in 2012-14
The Usual Suspects
It’s common knowledge that too much sugar is bad for your teeth. In fact, it’s one of the highest contributing factors to tooth decay. When you consume sugar, the bacteria in your teeth feed off it to create an acid that can break down tooth enamel, resulting in decay. Over time, the effects of this compound to leave you with cavities, gingivitis and poor oral hygiene.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends we limit our intake of sugar to 24g or 6 teaspoons a day. For reference, a 600mL bottle of soft drink contains 16 teaspoons of sugar!
Other foods and beverages like chips, crackers, dried fruit and fruit juices are sources of hidden sugars, all of which can impact your oral hygeine.
Coffee and tea can also have some negative effects, on your teeth as both are linked to staining. Coffee, however, can also cause bad breath and decay thanks to its high levels of acidity. For more on coffee and your teeth, check out our blog
How can I keep my teeth healthy?
Aside from brushing twice a day and flossing regularly, there area few changes you can make to your lifestyle to help your oral health:
Avoid snacking between meals – every time you eat, the bacteria in your mouth create more enamel-damaging acid. Constant snacking doesn’t allow your mouth to neutralise, increasing the risk of decay.
Limit your sugar intake – whilst a little sugar is ok, there are a range of alternatives to satisfy your cravings. Foods that have a natural sugar content like fruit and milk have other nutrients that are good for you and your teeth, like calcium and vitamins, antioxidants and malic acid.
Chew gum – the key to neutralising acids created by the bacteria in your mouth is producing saliva. Chewing sugar free gum is the best way to promote the creation of saliva to reduce the effect of acids and bacteria.
Don’t forget to visit for your regular dental check ups. Your dentist will be able to give you a better overall picture of your oral health and provide information to help you keep on track. Book an appointment with us today!