Stop tooth decay early: 6 Surprising foods and drinks that help to prevent cavities
With the beginning of long afternoons in the sun, it may be difficult to resist savouring the sweet taste of ice cold slushies, freezies and ice cream. At Vitality Dentistry, your dentist and hygienists want you to know that limiting the amount of sugary sweets we consume will prevent cavities. Overindulgence in sweets and carbohydrates combined with a lack of dental hygiene will lead to decay. Sugar acts as a food reservoir for naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth (Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacilli). The bacteria consume the sugar and change it into acid. This combination of acid and bacteria sits on your teeth as plaque and will create holes in your teeth.
According to the Canadian Dental Association, the average number of decayed, missing or filled teeth per child is 2.5 teeth. Dental sick days have lead to 2.26 million school-days (for children) and 4.15 million working-days (for adults) missed annually.
With this in mind, we at Vitality Dentistry are providing you with a list of foods to prevent cavities. All are summer friendly!
Sugar plus bacteria equals decay! Dairy products prevent cavity formation by counteracting the acidity which would have lead to dental decay. Studies have shown that cheese has the strongest anti-cavity effect as compared to milk and yogurt. After 30 minutes of eating, cheese raises the pH (reduces the acidity) which increases calcium released through the saliva. Calcium will help to remineralise and harden the enamel.
An apple a day really does keep the doctor away. Although fruits contain sugars like fructans, the benefits of the anti-cavity effect outweigh the risks. The tartness of apples stimulates saliva flow which helps to wash away the sugars and reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth. The fiber in apples literally scrapes away dental plaque as you chew.
3) Leafy Greens
Not only are they good for your overall health, but kale and spinach also promote excellent oral health. Their calcium content is relatively high which will help to rebuild your enamel. As well, there are many excellent B vitamins. Folic acid, a type of B vitamin has the potential to improve gum disease in pregnant women
4) Sugar-free gum
Chewing sugary gum will actually increase your risk of cavities but its’ cousin, the sugar-free gum will significantly reduce your risk. Sugar-free gum stimulates saliva flow which has many protective proteins to kill bacteria and prevent dental decay. As well, the amount of saliva produced will wash away the remains of the plaque. The best types of sugar-free gum are those made with Xylitol. Xylitol is a natural sweetener which kills cavity-forming bacteria. However, any sugar-free gum will have the desired effect of washing away bacteria.
Water is the healthiest drink on the planet. Your saliva is made up of mostly water. This neutral liquid washes away all the sugar and bacteria between meals. At Vitality Dentistry, we encourage you to drink more water not only to prevent cavities, but also to hydrate yourself in the hot sun.
Milk & Non-Dairy Alternatives
Milk neutralises the acidity in your saliva after consuming sugary foods and drinks. Drinking milk keeps your teeth and bones strong. It protects your tooth enamel by providing calcium and phosphorous which will help to remineralise (rebuild) your tooth structure. Milk fortified with Vitamin D will also help to keep your teeth and bones strong. For those who cannot drink dairy, there are many plant-based milks fortified with calcium and vitamin D as well as green leafy vegetables.