Maintaining a healthy mouth

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Did you know that eating habits play a major role in tooth decay?

Sugars in the food and drinks we eat are taken up by bacteria, producing acids that attack the outer layer of tooth enamel to cause decay.

Our saliva helps our teeth recover from these attacks through a process neutralising the acids. However, if we frequently snack between meals, there is no rest period for teeth to undergo this recovery process, which means that, over time, a cavity forms as a result of these sustained acid attacks.

It is not just the obvious sweet foods and drinks such as lollies and soft drinks that can cause decay. Frequent snacking on foods with hidden sugars like biscuits, crackers, cereals, chips and even dried fruit (these also break down into sugars in the mouth) can cause acid attacks on your tooth enamel. Two teeth friendly habits you can adopt to reduce your risk of tooth decay include having three regular meal times a day and limiting your sugary treats to be part of a meal rather than as a snack. 

Making water your beverage of choice and regularly sipping it throughout the day, including with and right after meals, makes a real difference to the health of your teeth. It’s calorie free, there are no ingredient labels to stress over, and it’s almost free! Even better, tap water in most areas of Australia contains fluoride, one of the easiest and most beneficial ways to help prevent tooth decay.

Top dietary tips for a healthy mouth:

  • Limit sugary treats to meal times, rather than between meals.
  • Drink fluoridated tap water throughout the day and after meals.
  • Chew sugar-free gum after eating.

Chewing sugar-free gum (and that’s the crucial qualifier, it must be sugar-free!) may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you’re thinking about good dietary habits to benefit your teeth. Studies have shown that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after eating can prompt your mouth to produce more saliva, which helps neutralise decay-causing acid attack.

Make sure you visit your dentist regularly, at least once a year. Regular dental check-ups are essential to maintaining good oral health. Dentists can check for problems that you might not see or feel like early signs of tooth decay and gum disease.

To see our dentists at the Health Hub, book your appointment here.