Candy. Cakes. Soda. Red wine. These foods and drinks are absorbed by your teeth, causing them to stain and discolor. However, there are steps you can take to limit their negative effects on your teeth. Here are some tips on how to eat and drink without ruining your oral health.
Consume Sugary Drinks With a Straw
Sugar-sweetened beverages are common cavity contributors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drinking sugary liquids through a straw prevents your teeth from being damaged by these harmful liquids. "Drinking through a straw positioned toward the back of the mouth may reduce the erosive potential of soft drinks," notes a joint report from the American Dental Association and the Council of Scientific Affairs.
Use Xylitol as a Sugar Substitute
Xylitol is a natural sweetener found in plant material such as fruits and vegetables. It's commonly used to make medicine, but you can also find it in sugar-free chewing gums and candies. That's because it prevents bacteria growth in the mouth and tooth decay. Add this sweetener to food items to improve your oral health. Research shows that using xylitol as a sugar substitute reduces cavities by as much as 85 percent.
Eat Dark Chocolate Instead of Milk Chocolate
Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains natural chemicals called polyphenols, which prevent bacteria buildup in your mouth and bad breath. This delicious snack also stops sugar and starch from turning into acid — something that causes damage to the enamel on your teeth. One study even suggests that chocolate fights tooth decay, and that cocoa bean husk (CBH) — a compound found in this food — could be present in toothpaste and mouthwashes in the future.
Drink Plenty of Water
If you consume a lot of sugar in your diet, drink more water to limit tooth decay. Water gets rid of food debris buildup after a meal. It also encourages more saliva production, which prevents damage to your tooth enamel. Saliva contains proteins that inhibit tooth surface mineral loss when you consume acidic food and drink.
Consumption of water with fluoride is particularly beneficial. "Fluoridated drinking water, or any product you make with fluoridated water, helps your teeth," says the University of Rochester Medical Center. "This includes powdered juices (as long as they don't contain a lot of sugar) and dehydrated soups. Commercially prepared foods, like poultry products, seafood, and powdered cereals, also can give fluoride."
Research shows that eating cheese prevents cavities. Compounds found in cheese cling to the enamel of your teeth and shield it from acids. Moreover, cheese increases saliva production. There's no correlation between the fat content in cheese and cavity protection, so low-fat options work just as well as fattier cheeses.
Brush After Every Meal
Brushing after every meal reduces the bacteria that cause plaque, says the College of Health and Human Sciences. If you're unable to do this, brush your teeth at least twice every day with a good toothpaste that contains fluoride.
The average American has 22 teaspoons of sugar every single day, which can destroy the protective layer of the teeth. This doesn't mean you can't enjoy your favorite foods and beverages, though. By following the tips on this list, you can consume tasty meals without damaging your enamel and staining your teeth.