Cavities are a result of tooth decay, caused by acid from plaque buildup. Anyone can get a cavity, but certain people are more susceptible. People with deep grooves in their teeth, little fluoride intake (well water), inadequate brushing, dry mouth (several medications can cause this), worn out fillings, and heartburn are more susceptible to cavities.
Cavities are also more common in those who sip beverages (other than water), snack throughout the day and feed on milk, formula or juice before bed without brushing afterward. If you struggle with cavities or are trying to make sure you do not get one, then there are certain foods and beverages that you should avoid. Below is a useful guide from our dentists in Oshawa to help you protect your teeth from cavities and make smart dental health decisions.
Beverages that contain acid are well-known causes of tooth erosion. Enamel loss from acid is measured as mg/cm2 over 14-day periods. Tap water causes -0.05 enamel dissolution, which is the best score for any beverage. Other beverages that score in the safe range are black tea and black coffee, with ratings of 0.35 and 0.34. Coca-cola, Pepsi Cola, Dr. Pepper, Diet Dr. Pepper, and Diet Coke all are between 2.78 and 3.31. These beverages are not good for your teeth but are also not the worst option. The worst beverages for enamel erosion are Sprite with a rating of 8.60, Arizona Iced Tea with a rating of 9.03, Mountain Dew with a rating of 14.31, Diet Mountain Dew with a rating of 14.82 (diet pop is always worse than its non-diet counterpart), and Red Bull with a rating of 16.50.
If you are drinking anything outside of a safe rating, you should at the very least rinse your mouth out with water. You should also severely limit your intake of anything with a very bad score (8.00 and higher). You should wait at least a half hour afterward before brushing your teeth as the demineralized enamel can remineralize with the help of the minerals in your saliva.
Milk falls into a different category than all the above beverages because while it does contain sugars that can cause cavities and plaque, its sugars are from lactose, which, of all the sugars, has the least effect on teeth. Milk also can help to remineralize teeth that have been stripped of enamel by sugars and acids. Infants who have milk before bed (formula, cow milk, or breast milk) need to have their teeth brushed or instead drink water before bed.
Lower carb foods are the best option to reduce the risk of cavities. Raw vegetables, cheese, nuts, all-natural nut butter, meats, and fats are safe snacking foods. Whole milk, crunchy fresh fruit (crunchy fruit can help clean teeth), whole grain bread, popcorn, smoothies, dark chocolate (70% or higher), yogurt (sugar-free is best), and oatmeal are usually safe and if you choose non-sugary options will often not cause cavities.
Snacks you want to avoid as much as possible are candies, soda, fruit juice (even 100% fruit juice), cookies, chocolate milk, dried fried and fruit snacks or strips (these are especially dangerous as they can get stuck in molars), dried flour cereals, pretzels, crackers, oranges, bananas, and sports drinks.
The great thing about a healthy dental diet is that it is an all-around way of eating healthy too. Cutting out processed sugars will protect your teeth and your overall health. No matter how well you care for your teeth, it is still important to do check-ups and cleanings with a dentist. KR Dental offers a variety of services to help you have the brightest and healthiest smile possible.