This is a huge topic and not something I can cover completely. We are bombarded by messages in the media that can be a lot to take in. I want to give you a few nuggets of info from a dental point of view.
Disclaimer: Nothing is good for your teeth. And all the tastiest things are worst for your teeth. I’m not saying you have to cut all of these tasty things out. I’m just saying that you should be aware of the impact they can have on your teeth. Everything in moderation.
The two worst types of food stuffs for your teeth are sugary foods and acidic foods.
Sugary foods are what the bacteria in plaque eat to make acid which attacks the surface of your teeth and causes decay. Sticky, sugary foods are tasty but awful for your teeth. Sweets and toffees stick to your teeth and hang around for ages afterwards so those bugs are able to keep using the sugar long after you’ve finished eating it.
Even some things that we consider healthy are bad for our teeth. Milk, commonly considered good because of its calcium, is actually very sugary. Fruit and fruit juices are sugary and acidic.
Soft drinks are the absolute worst. Fizzy pop is extremely sugary and also highly acidic. Even diet drinks without the sugar are so acidic you could dissolve your socks in them. Acidic foods are not used by the bacteria in your mouth but will act to directly soften and wash away the outer layer of your teeth, wearing them away.
I’m as upset as you are. All of my favourite things are damaging my teeth. I’m a fiend for sticky sweets. I love a glass of white wine but that is very acidic. Even fizzy water, although not as bad as flavoured soft drinks, is still quite acidic.
So how do we get around it? I’m not about to give up all of my favourite treats and I wouldn’t expect you to either. We need ways of having the things that are bad for us whilst minimising damage within our mouths.
Everything in moderation
We just need to be sensible.
Avoid grazing. If you are nibbling away on snacks throughout the day, your teeth never get a break. The salts in your saliva never have a chance to try and re-harden the damaged enamel. It is much better, if you are going to have a snack, to eat it all at once. This minimises the period of time that your teeth are being attacked and gives them the maximum time to recover.
Try to keep snacks to a minimum and only eat at meal times. Again, this is using the same principal that if you keep eating to set times then the time that your teeth are being attacked is minimised and they have longer to recover.
You should be having no more than one sugary snack a day and ideally it should be less than that.
If you are tempted to brush after a snack, consider what you have eaten. Anything acidic is going to have softened the top layer of enamel and if you brush straight away you are going to get rid of that precious enamel. It can be a good thing to brush after eating but it can also do damage.
If that feels like an impossible situation, it is. Nothing is good for your teeth. Everything is bad. I’m one of the worst offenders when it comes to snacks that I shouldn’t have. Don’t worry about it too much because otherwise you’ll never eat anything. Everything should be eaten in moderation for a balanced and healthy diet.