Healthy Food, Unhealthy Teeth? A Surprising Threat

park-ridge-healthy-teethCandy. Soda. Popcorn. You know junk food when you see it. You also probably know that these sweet and starchy treats wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. What you might not realize, however, is that even the healthiest foods can also have adverse impacts on your oral health. Does this mean you should forgo a healthy diet in favor of junk food? Absolutely not, says Dr. Thanasi Loukas. The key is understanding how best to mitigate the risks of consuming these substances.

Healthy Carbs and Whole Grains

We often see patients who have sworn off refined grains in favor of whole grains and other “healthy carbs” such as whole-grain pasta, sweet potatoes, and brown rice. It’s a smart move for your body and your teeth, especially since refined products are quickly broken down into sugar, eroding tooth enamel. Although healthy carbs, too, break down into sugar when mixed with your saliva, they do not do so as rapidly. Dr. Loukas cautions that carbohydrates and starches take on a thick, sticky consistency in your mouth, clinging to your teeth and near your gum line. Always brush (or at least rinse your mouth with water) after eating breads, cereals, and other grains.

Citrus Fruits and Dried Fruit

Loaded with vitamin C and flavonoids, citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits are among the most popular healthy fruits. Like all fruits, citrus contains natural sugar. Compared to other fruits, however, citrus packs a highly acidic wallop that eats away at your tooth enamel. If you consumer citrus fruits or juice, wait at least half an hour before brushing your teeth. The bristles of your toothbrush could actually damage the already weakened enamel, leading to sensitive teeth. Instead, rinse your mouth with water or chew sugar-free gum. Even dried fruits create risks for teeth, as they are sticky when chewed and contain cellulose fibers that ensnare sugar and leftover food on and around teeth.

Chewable Vitamins and Supplements

Although not technically considered a food in and of itself, multivitamins are a common supplement to many adults’ diet. When choosing a dietary supplement, avoid chewable or gummy vitamins. Manufacturers add large amounts of sugar to make the vitamin more palatable, and the texture of the vitamin itself insinuates its way between teeth, near the gums, and in other hidden nooks within your mouth. Brush your teeth after taking your vitamin to avoid tooth decay and plaque buildup.

For questions about how your diet affects oral health, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Thanasi and Maria Loukas, contact us at 847.696.1919. We welcome patients living in Park Ridge, Chicago, and the surrounding areas. For the latest news and insights from our practice, follow Park Ridge Dental on Facebook.

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