Nutrition & Diet

Your body is like a complex machine. The foods you choose as fuel and how often you “fill up” affect your general health and that of your teeth and gums. Dr. Kathie Ketcher is concerned that her patients are consuming record numbers of sugar-filled sodas, sweetened fruit drinks, and non-nutritious sugar snacks that affect their teeth. These items generally have little if any nutritional value and over time they can take a toll on teeth.

Eating patterns and food choices among children and teens are important factors that affect how quickly youngsters may develop tooth decay. When bacteria (plaque) come into contact with sugar in the mouth, acid is produced, which attacks the teeth for 20 minutes or more. This can eventually result in tooth decay.

Minimize soda pop and sugary beverage consumption

Even diet soda frequently contains phosphoric acid or other acids that give the drink its “bite”. Sugars stick to pits, fissures and other “traps” in teeth, where bacteria are found. The bacteria convert the sugars to acids and enzymes that destroy tooth enamel.

Read labels

Minimize beverages containing acids and sugars. Sugars normally end with the letters “ose”, such as sucrose, fructose, glucose, etc. Although bacteria that destroy tooth structure normally use only sucrose, other sugars such as fructose can be broken down by the bacteria and made into a form they can use. Other names for sugars include monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides (carbohydrates).

Avoid excessive carbohydrate consumption

Breakfast cereals, breads, pastas, candies all contain complex carbohydrates, another name for complex sugars. Our brains and bodies require sugar to operate. Just don’t overdo them, and when you do eat these foods, make sure to brush and floss thoroughly soon afterward. Try to eat whole grains whenever possible. If you cannot brush and floss right after a snack or meal, be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly with water to help reduce the acid concentration in your mouth. Avoid starchy or sugary snacks if possible.

Have healthy snacks

Snack on carrots or celery sticks, or other fruits and vegetables whenever possible.

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