From childhood, we all have learned that sugary foods are bad for our teeth, causing tooth decay and its frequent partner, periodontal or gum disease. That's why mom and dad taught us to brush our teeth every day and to floss as well.
Residue from candy and starchy foods such as breads and rice accumulates on teeth and at the gum line in the form of bacteria-laden plaque and tartar--the perfect breeding ground for acid-secreting oral bacteria. However, did you know that many foods that are nutritious and beneficial also erode enamel, making it prone to decay?
It's true. Acidic foods are actually hazardous to dental health. That's why Dr. Tariq Riyal, dentist in the Ukranian Village area of Chicago, wants his patients to understand the dangers of acidic foods, what those foods are and how to enjoy them without damaging oral health.
Apples Versus Oranges
Which of these fruits is more acidic? if you picked oranges, you are correct. All of the citrus fruits--oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruit--contain a lot of acid. Plus, tomatoes, also a fruit, are highly acidic. Yes, the vitamin C in these popular fruits help the immune system, especially in the cold and flu season, but when tooth enamel contacts citric acid, erosion begins. As time goes on, the effect is cumulative, wearing teeth thin.
The Columbia School of Dental Medicine recommends that people continue to consume citrus fruits and juices in moderation and at meal time when the acidic fruit can mix with other buffering foods and be washed away with water.
Soda pop is also highly acidic. When acid is combined with the high sugar or corn syrup content in these beverages, it's no wonder that adults and kids should avoid colas, root beer and so on.
What to Do
Often the best way to avoid the dangers of acidic foods or other menu choices damaging to oral health is simply to add other nutritious foods beneficial to teeth and gums. For instance, drink plenty of water. Eight glasses are not only good for the waistline, but they also wash acids and food residues off teeth. Plus, water promotes production of saliva--nature's own tooth cleanser.
Furthermore, Dr. Riyal recommends hard cheeses because they contain enamel and bone-building calcium and help to counter the adverse effects of acidic foods. Fibrous vegetables such as celery virtually scrape teeth clean of carbs, sugars, acids and other residues which cling to teeth and gums. Black tea, which may stain enamel if consumed in excess, provides a natural fluoride to protect tooth surfaces from cavity formation.
Practice conscientious oral hygiene at home, brushing with a fluoride paste twice a day and flossing daily, too. Also, see Dr. Riyal at Miswak Dentistry every six months for a check-up and cleaning. While you're there, ask about how nutrition and your dental health interact. Call the Ukranian Village area office for an appointment: (773) 661-0330.