What do tooth decay and gum disease have in common? Well, they’re both really widespread: According to data from the CDC, more than 90% of adults and nearly 60% of kids have had at least one cavity during their lifetimes, and gum disease remains a leading cause of tooth loss among adults.
But that’s not the only similarity these two oral health issues share. Both cavities and gum disease are preventable — if you know what to do to improve your oral health.
At Novi Family Dentistry in Novi, Michigan, Abir Faraj, DDS, provides comprehensive dental care, which includes offering nutritional counseling to help patients keep their teeth and gums healthy. Here are five tips you can use to keep cavities and gum disease at bay.
Drinking water is a simple, inexpensive way to keep your teeth and gums healthy, and it works in a couple ways. First, water helps wash away food particles and bacteria to prevent the buildup of sticky plaque.
Second, drinking water prevents xerostomia or dry mouth, a chronic condition that dramatically increases your risks of developing tooth decay and infections.
Water not your thing? Green and black tea — both hot and iced — contain organic compounds called polyphenols that prevent bacteria from multiplying, reducing the risk of enamel erosion and decay.
Most of us know eating a lot of sweets can lead to cavities, but do you know why? Turns out, decay-causing bacteria love sweets as much as you do. When you consume sugars — including simple carbs like white bread and white rice — the bacteria in your mouth get fed, too, leading them to multiply at a more rapid rate.
As bacteria multiply, they produce acids that eat away at your tooth’s outer enamel layer, making it easier for bacteria to cause cavities. Sugar also lowers the pH level in your mouth, which also increases your risk of developing tooth decay.
Calcium-rich cheese and dairy products aren’t just good for your bones, they build strong teeth, too. Most dairy products also contain a lot of vitamin D for added tooth-building benefits.
Plus, cheese is full of phosphates that help remineralize your teeth, helping prevent enamel erosion that can leave your teeth exposed to decay-causing bacteria. Bonus: Cheese also promotes the production of saliva to help wash away food particles and bacteria.
Sticky foods cling to the surfaces of your teeth, and it takes longer for saliva to break them down and wash them away. That delay makes it easier for plaque to form, increasing your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease.
Caramels and toffee are common culprits, but even healthy foods like honey and dried fruit can stick to your teeth. You don’t have to avoid those healthy treats, but do be sure to rinse afterward to help remove the residue.
Acidic foods and drinks eat away at tooth enamel, slowly eroding your teeth’s hard, protective layer over time. Coffee, sodas, and energy drinks are high in acids, and so are healthy foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits.
As with sticky, dried fruits, you don’t need to eliminate acidic foods and drinks entirely, but do try to rinse afterward. You can lessen the effects of acids by consuming high-acid foods or drinks as part of a meal rather than on their own.
Adjusting your diet is just one way to improve your oral health without a lot of extra work. Dr. Faraj can help you learn other simple ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy, so you can enjoy a lifetime of beautiful, healthy smiles. To schedule an exam or to learn more about nutritional counseling, call 248-418-4542 or book an appointment online with Novi Family Dentistry today.