The sugar content in the foods and beverages we eat and drink plays a significant role in the risk of tooth decay. The bacteria that resides within plaque utilizes sugar to propagate. The presence of sugar makes the plaque grow in size and thickness faster than in the absence of sugar. In addition, the plaque consistency is sticky and thick, making it difficult for normal saliva production to cleanse the plaque off the teeth. As the bacteria grow they produce acid and this acid can dissolve the surface of the enamel resulting in a hole or “cavity”. When a person consumes beverages with high sugar content and higher levels of acidity, he/ she is putting his/ her teeth at higher risk of developing cavities.
Below is list of some drinks with a high acidity:
- Coca-Cola 2.60
- Pepsi 2.62
- PowerAde 2.67
- Gatorade 2.99
- Propel 3.08
- Mountain Dew 3.34
- A&W Root Beer 4.43
- Coffee(Black) 6.12
- Milk 6.70
- Water 7.00
The lower the pH level of a substance, the higher the acidity and the more erosive it is for tooth enamel. Tooth enamel starts to dissolve at a 5.5 pH.
On the other hand, there are many foods and beverages that help to lower the risk of tooth decay and improve oral health.
- Green Tea: A natural antioxidant that prevents plaque from accumulating. Green tea also reduces the risk of cavities and bad breath.
- Milk and Yogurt: Both have lower sugar content and less acidity; thus, making them a great choice as a snack. Dairy products such as milk that are rich in calcium help to fortify teeth and bones. This is good news for tooth erosion and tooth decay.
- Cheese: Helps balance the pH in your mouth and helps to produce saliva which cleans the teeth. Cheese also helps to rebuild tooth enamel and limits the growth of the bacteria that causes cavities and gum disease.
- Fruit: Fruit helps to keep down plaque and the texture of most fruits massages your gums. Try to add fruits that are rich in vitamin C to your diet. If you are low on vitamin C, gums may become tender and more susceptible to gum disease.
- Vegetables: Many vegetables are rich in calcium. Calcium helps to keep teeth and the bones healthy. Some of the vegetables that are rich in calcium are broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin.
- Sesame Seeds: Help to dissolve plaque and build tooth enamel. Sesame seeds are best when they are on bread. Sesame seeds are also rich in calcium.
So as you can see, pure water and milk are the best beverage options to preserve dental health. If you have a soda, have it with a meal and then brush or rinse your teeth after.
Drs. Reid & Reid are sponsoring the Family Mud Fun on June 2, 2017 to benefit Hands On! A Child’s Gallery in Hendersonville. See http://handsonwnc.org/for more details.