Despite the progress that has been made in the last 50 years, tooth decay, or cavities, is still a very common ailment in the United States. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease. While the formation of tooth decay involves MANY different factors, the foods we eat and our oral hygiene are the largest factors. In regards to our diets, there are foods that can cause cavities, as well as foods that can help prevent them.
Most people know that table sugar (sucrose) plays a significant role in the development of cavities. However, the bacteria that cause decay are able to process any carbohydrate eaten into acid and plaque that breakdown tooth structure and cause decay. So, while a pretzel may be a healthier option than a candy bar, the carbs in the pretzel can still lead to decay. Another concern regarding our diet is the acidity of certain foods we eat. Acidic foods, such as lemons, limes, oranges, and sodas, play a significant role in the formation of cavities by breaking down the enamel on our teeth. Avoiding sweet or acidic foods can lower the risk of cavities forming.
While there are foods that can cause cavities, there are foods that can help teeth maintain the protective enamel that prevents cavities. When you are planning your diet and nutrition, it is strongly recommended that you include foods that prevent cavities to offset any foods that cause them. There are many different foods that are good for the prevention of cavities, including calcium-rich foods, fruit, fiber-containing foods, vegetables, and whole grains. Fruit is an excellent alternative to chocolate candy bars and other sweets, but like with your regular sweets, you should make certain you clean your mouth out and brush your teeth, especially if your fruit-treat involves lemons and other extremely acidic foods.
Despite the best of intentions, it’s very difficult to completely avoid foods that lead to decay! This is why good oral hygiene and regular dental visits are important. At Hutto Premier Dentistry, Dr. McEntire and Dr. Marek recommend dental check-ups every six months. Because the average time of decay formation is six months, these regular visits will help ensure that if any cavities do begin they are caught at an early stage when fixing them is easier and less expensive. In regards to kids, or pediatric dentistry, Dr. McEntire and Dr. Marek recommend seeing kids for their first dental visit no later than 12 months old.
I earned my Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the prestigious University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School, graduating with dual Honors.