How does my diet effect my oral health?
Everything you consume, whether it be food or drink, has to pass through your mouth. If you eat a food or drink containing sugar, the sugar is taken up by bacteria in your mouth and they produce acid, which attacks your tooth enamel. The saliva in your mouth naturally acts to neutralise the acid, however if you snack consistently on sugar foods and drinks then your body’s natural defence simply doesn’t have enough time between attacks to do it’s job.
How much sugar am I really consuming?
Here is a list, courtesy of the Australian Dental Association, showing common drinks and how much sugar they contain:
- 500ml orange juice – 10.5 teaspoons of sugar
- 500ml flavoured milk – 6 teaspoons of sugar
- 500ml energy drink – 16 teaspoons of sugar
- 600ml soft drink – 16 teaspoons of sugar
- 375ml can of soft drink – 10 teaspoons of sugar
- 600ml sports drink – 8.5 teaspoons of sugar
- Water – 0 sugar!!
Given that the recommended average daily sugar limit for Australian adults is 6 teaspoons, or 24 grams, in order to reduce the risk of tooth decay, you can see why drinking water or plain, unflavoured milk is your best bet!
What about foods?
Obviously, sugary foods such as lollies and sweet foods can cause a problem, but there are also many foods that contain hidden sugars that you have to consider as well. Cereals, crackers, biscuits, chips and even dried fruit all contain hidden sugar that can cause tooth decay. Frequent snacking on these foods can increase the risk to your oral health.
So, what can I do to maintain healthy teeth?
The Australian Dental Association recommends that you:
- Have three regular meals a day, rather than snacking and grazing
- If you are having a sugary snack, enjoy it as part of a meal rather than as a snack
- Drink fluoridated water throughout the day and after meals
- Chewing on sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after a meal can help your mouth produce more saliva, which can help to further neutralise the decay-causing acids.
If you have any questions about your diet and how it relates to your oral health, feel free to contact us. You can also book an appointment if you would like our friendly dentists to assess your oral health and see how you are tracking.