Did you know that as many as one-third of US adults from ages 20 to 44 have had untreated tooth decay from 2013 to 2016? And yet, only 64% of adults aged 18 to 64 visited their dentist in 2017.
And only 15% say that their oral health is in an excellent state.
The thing is, poor oral health can lead to poor overall health. After all, dental health and wellness share a very tight relationship.
And your diet plays a huge role in both aspects of your well-being. What you eat and drink can either make or break both your oral and overall health.
Ready to learn all about the foods that have the largest negative impact on your wellness? Then let’s dive right into it!
1. Carbonated Beverages and Energy Drinks
On average, Americans drink 50 gallons of sugar-sweetened beverages every year. This makes such drinks the primary source of added sugars in the American diet.
All that sugar is a feast for the harmful type of bacteria in the mouth. When these microorganisms encounter and feed on sugar, they produce acids.
These bacteria are also responsible for the formation of acid-filled dental plaque. It’s the sticky, transparent film that constantly forms on the teeth’s surface.
These acids cause demineralization, which removes minerals from the tooth enamel. Without proper mineral content, the enamel weakens and begins to degrade. This is what triggers the development of cavities over time.
Worse, excess consumption of sugar shares a strong link with various chronic diseases. These include obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Studies also found a connection between high sugar intake and cognitive decline.
Another study even found evidence of sugary drinks increasing one’s risk for cancer.
So, these unhealthy drinks not only put your oral health at risk but your overall well-being too. That should be enough reason for you to skip, or at least limit your intake of these beverages.
2. Candies (Both the Hard and the Soft, Sticky Types)
97% of Americans say that they eat candy at least once a year. On any given day, at least one in four people over the age of 2 sucks or bites on these sweets.
Moreover, these candies also make it easier to exceed daily sugar intake recommendations. For women, four pieces of caramel are enough to exceed the recommended daily sugar intake of 25 grams. For men, all it takes is about six squares of caramel to go beyond their 38 grams of recommended sugar intake.
These candies also put you at the same health risks as carbonated and energy drinks.
If you’re craving for sweets, opt for sugar-free chewing gum with the ADA approval instead. Studies, like this one, found evidence that these can help reduce caries.
3. Processed Starch
White bread, cakes, crackers, and pasta contain “rapidly digestible starches” (RDS). These RDS come mostly from their white flour components. These processed starches, being simple carbohydrates, are quick to break down into sugars.
Moreover, these products, when mixed with saliva, become gum-like and sticky. This makes it easier for them to stick to the surfaces of the teeth. Potato chips, as well as biscuits and crackers, have the highest tendency to stick to the teeth.
As with candies and sugary drinks, the bacteria in the mouth also love these starches. They feed on these and produce the same acids that can weaken the teeth enamel.
Many studies have already established the link between alcohol consumption and tooth decay. Alcohol has a negative effect on the salivary glands, raising one’s risks for cavities. Moreover, it can irritate and inflame the oral soft tissues, leading to oral infection.
Other studies have also confirmed that chronic alcohol consumption increases dental disease risks. Too much alcohol can also lead to unhealthy gums, and from there, periodontitis.
As if that’s not enough, alcohol has also shown kill off the good bacteria in the mouth. Heavier drinkers had fewer Lactobacillales, which is a “healthy” type of bacteria. These people also had more of the bad bacteria in their mouths.
This disruption in the oral microbiome can then result in various oral health issues. Bad breath, cavities, dry mouth, and gum disease are just to name a few.
5. Too Much Citrus
Orange juice and apple juice do provide health benefits, but they can also be corrosive to the teeth. In fact, a study found that they can be up to five times more corrosive than certain types of soda.
Fortunately, Vitamin C isn’t only in oranges and apples. Avocadoes, cantaloupes, and honeydews have a pH level higher than 6. This makes them less acidic than many citrus fruits, yet they’re still great sources of Vitamin C.
You can still eat oranges and apples (or drink their fresh juices), but be sure to gargle with plain water after. This’ll help remove some of the acids that they leave in your mouth.
Control Your Intake of These Foods for Better Dental Health and Wellness
There you have it, the top five foods that can make your dental health and wellness suffer. As much as you can, avoid the first four on the list, as they won’t do your overall health any good anyway. As for citrusy fruits, alternate those with high pH levels with lower pH ones.
And of course, don’t underestimate the power of routine dental care services! Visit your dentist at least every six months, to make sure that you haven’t developed any tooth decay. Your dentist will also ensure that you have healthy gums and aren’t at risk of periodontitis.
Ready to improve your dental health and overall well-being? Then please feel free to connect with us now so you can schedule your much-needed dental check-up!