While it’s important to see dentist in Leeds City Dentalcare at regular intervals for check-ups and professional cleanings, and to make sure you brush and floss your teeth thoroughly each day, your oral health can also be affected by your diet. A nutritionally sound diet will not only benefit your general health, but will also ensure teeth are formed correctly, and that oral health can be maintained.
Diet and Its Role in Tooth Decay
Most people will be well aware that eating too many sugary foods is bad for their teeth, but may not be quite sure why this is and how sugar and other foods may increase the risk of tooth decay. The reasons lie in the way tooth decay develops. The crown of the tooth which is the part that is exposed in the mouth is covered with a layer of protective enamel. Dental enamel is one of the hardest substances in nature, but in spite of this it is still susceptible to wear and tear. If you eat something sugary or something full of carbohydrates that’s likely to stick to the teeth, such as crisps, then the plaque bacteria naturally present in your mouth will begin to feed on the left overs.
Plaque bacteria create a sticky film you can sometimes feel on your teeth at the end of the day, and they produce acids as a by-product of feeding. These acids attack the tooth enamel causing minerals and other essential elements such as phosphate and calcium to be leached out of the tooth. This leads to the enamel becoming softer and more likely to be eroded away. Some of these minerals are redeposited back into the tooth surfaces once the pH levels in the mouth become less acidic, but some will be lost permanently. Repeated attacks by these acids will lead to greater levels of erosion. One of the first signs that this may be happening is noticing your teeth become more sensitive to hot and cold foods, something that patients as our Leeds surgery often complain about.
Small Modifications to Your Diet Can Help Lessen the Risk of Tooth Decay
Obviously cutting down on sugary foods will help, as will cutting down on the number of snacks in between meals. Every time you eat something your mouth will become more acidic and these acids will gradually erode away your tooth enamel. Sticking to regular meals, and ending the meal with something that isn’t so sweet, such as cheese or crunchy fruits and vegetables that have a high water content will help. It’ll also help if you avoid eating too many foods that are naturally acidic such as strawberries, tomatoes and citrus fruits. You may also want to drink plain water after a meal, or to rinse out your mouth with tap water as this will help to wash away any excess pieces of food, and will reduce the acidity in your mouth.
Fluoride and Its Role in Reducing Tooth Decay
While modifications to your diet can help, so can using good quality toothpaste containing fluoride. The effect of fluoride on teeth is topical as it helps to make the tooth enamel more resistant to acid erosion. It also helps to re-calcify tooth surfaces that have been softened during an acid attack. If you are more susceptible towards tooth decay then you may want to incorporate a fluoride mouthwash into your daily routine. These are all things you can discuss with Dr David Brown or any of our dental staff here in our Leeds surgery.