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Diet and Tooth Decay

Table of fruits and vegetablesWhen you consume food and beverages (especially those high in sugar and starch), the bacteria in your mouth reacts and causes acid. This then eats away at your tooth enamel, resulting in cavities.

It is well-known that foods high in sugar cause tooth decay, with sticky snacks in particular clinging to your tooth enamel. The longer they remain within your mouth, the longer your teeth are exposed to decay-causing acid. Carbonated soft drinks and sports drinks also contain high levels of sugar and these are often the types of drinks you tend to sip on over a long period of time, further exposing your teeth to the harmful effects of sugar.

Adopting a healthy diet will significantly reduce the likelihood of developing tooth decay. You want this diet to incorporate the basic food groups, ensuring it is high in fresh fruit and vegetables, while low in sugar and starch. Additionally, you’ll want to reduce or eliminate snacks between meals. This can easily be achieved by substituting your usual sweet treats with vegetable sticks or nuts.

Did you know your saliva contains natural antibacterial properties and is your body’s natural defence against mouth acid produced when eating? Snacking throughout the entire day on sweet foods, however, produces a constant acidic presence that your saliva cannot neutralise completely.

We suggest you eat sweet foods and snacks only at normal meal times to limit the amount of exposure your teeth receive to sugar-producing acids. It isn’t the quantity of sugar that is the problem, as it is the frequency of snacking which causes the most harm.

If you are unable to brush your teeth immediately after eating, we recommend rinsing your mouth with water instead. Chewing sugarless gum after eating or snacking on sugarless lollies will also increase saliva flow, therefore decreasing the amount of bacteria in your mouth.

Plaque is another harmful element that can accumulate in your mouth. It is a clear, sticky film that gathers on your gums, as well as on the surface and in the grooves of teeth. Plaque is able to be removed by brushing and flossing regularly, however if plaque is not removed, it becomes hardened and this is referred to as calculus (tartar). Brushing and flossing alone cannot eliminate this tartar, but thankfully our qualified hygienists can use specially-developed cleaning instruments to eradicate this concern.

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