Sugar is notorious for causing cavities, and that’s because the decay-causing bacteria in plaque feed on sugar. When bacteria consume sugar, they secrete acid, which erodes the enamel on your teeth.
While sugar alone isn’t the culprit 一 there’s a whole chain of events that involves plaque building up on your teeth 一 it’s well known that some foods promote tooth decay more than others. Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher, noted that sweet soft foods like figs contributed to tooth decay.
Our team proudly treats tooth decay with mercury-free fillings, but we’re on a mission to help prevent as many cavities as possible. Here, Mehrnoosh Darj, DDS, and the team at Dr. Darj Dental in El Paso, Texas, share the top foods that promote tooth decay as well as the foods that help prevent it.
Foods that promote tooth decay
When you eat and drink beverages that are rich in sugar, your teeth are vulnerable to decay. Candy, sweet pastries, sugary soft drinks, sweetened coffee beverages, and ice cream are all loaded with sugar.
However, there are other foods that make the decay-promoting list that may surprise you. Both fruit juice and dried fruit seem like healthy snacks 一 especially when compared against candy or pastries 一 but they contain a lot of sugar.
Children who sip juice throughout the day are particularly at risk because the sugar sits against their teeth. According to an article published by the Journal of the American Dental Association, it’s a good idea to limit drinks other than water to meal times in order to avoid the prolonged exposure of sugars on children’s teeth.
Other foods that promote tooth decay:
- Sour candy, which is even worse than other candies because sour candy has added acids that erode your teeth
- Sticky or chewy food, such as sticky buns, taffy, and hard caramels
- White bread that’s high in sugar
- Potato chips, especially flavors like barbeque that have added sugar
Just because one of your favorite treats is on this list doesn’t mean you have to avoid it altogether. If you do indulge on occasion, be sure to rinse your mouth after eating and brush your teeth as soon as you’re able.
Foods that help prevent tooth decay
Just as some foods promote decay, some foods can help you avoid it. Eating raw crunchy fruits and vegetables, such as apples, carrots, or celery, can help prevent cavities. When you chew raw foods like these, the rough fiber helps scrape away plaque from your teeth, and because the decay-causing bacteria is hidden in plaque, this helps break the sugar-decay cycle.
Foods rich in calcium can also help fortify and strengthen your teeth. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, fortified products, dark leafy greens, and canned salmon.
At-home strategies to prevent tooth decay
In addition to choosing healthy nutritious foods, your oral care habits can also help reduce your risk of tooth decay. Follow these tips to boost your oral health:
- Rinse your mouth with water after eating
- Brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Floss daily, either with regular wax floss or a water flosser
- Use mouthwash
- Schedule routine dental cleanings
If you need to schedule your next routine cleaning, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Darj Dental. You can give us a call at 915-213-4097 or request an appointment online.