They don’t call them “guilty pleasures” for nothing. As much as most of us love sweets, we know all too well that overindulging in certain treats boost our risk of tooth decay and painful cavities.
Cavities form as the result of plaque. As the plaque grows on your tooth enamel, it produces acids triggered by sugary foods and drinks, that create small holes in your teeth.
The good news, however, is that in addition to maintaining good oral hygiene, there are delectable foods you can consume that actually help prevent cavities. These include:
- Dairy products – A study published in the journal General Dentistry examined the dental plaque pH in youngsters age 12 to 15 before and after they ate cheese, sugar-free yogurt, and drank milk. The study found there was a significant change in pH after consuming these dairy products, with cheese having the highest plaque pH compared to milk and yogurt. Rising pH levels are known to lead to an increase in calcium and trigger saliva formation, which helps harden tooth enamel.
In another study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, whole milk was found to raise pH levels lost while consuming sugary foods and drinks.
- Apples – Although fresh fruit contains high sugar levels and can be acidic, they can stimulate saliva flow, which lowers levels of cavity-causing bacteria. So, perhaps the old adage should now be: An apple a day keeps tooth decay away.
- Red wine – The active components in red wine, proanthocyanidins, have antioxidants that fight the bacteria that promotes cavities.
- Green and Black Tea – The leaves of the Camilla siensis plant in tea have been found to have anti-cavity properties. They prevent plaque build-up and inhibit bacteria. Just be sure to drink your tea straight, without sweeteners.
- Sugar-Free Gum – Unlike regular gum, which is filled with sugar and causes cavities, chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol can prevent plaque build-up. As a natural sweetener, xylitol fights bacteria that causes tooth decay. Numerous studies have shown that among additives used as sugar replacements, xylitol accounts for the highest cavity reduction.
- Sugar-free drinks –Although they don’t contain bacteria-causing ingredients, sugar-free drinks with carbonated water can deteriorate your tooth enamel due to their high acidity levels. So, if you drink these beverages, be sure to use a straw to prevent their acidity from making contact with your teeth.
As you can see, maintaining good oral hygiene involves more than just brushing and flossing your teeth regularly. Having a better understanding of what types of food are either helpful or harmful to your teeth can help you maintain your dental health much better.