When we last considered diet in my post on “Eating on the Wlid Side,” I promised some tips on eating for better dental health. Most of what I have to say is old news, like avoiding sticky and sugary snacks like caramels and the like. But it is important to understand why this matters.
The bacteria that cause tooth decay are acid loving. In other words, they live in an acid environment and produce acids which contribute to tooth decay and inflammation in the gums. The easiest food for them to digest is sugar. Bacteria convert sugar straight to acid which in turn promotes an acid environment in the mouth by raising the pH of the saliva. It’s a vicious cycle!
There are several ways to try and combat this, the easiest being to avoid the sugary refined carbohydrates that the bacteria love. This also includes soda, energy drinks and most sport drinks. It especially includes anything sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) because certain elements of HFCS are not filtered by our salivary glands leading to more decay.
One newer alternative to dealing with the problem of salivary pH is to eat more foods containing arginine. Arginine is an essential amino acid needed for health. It is contained in foods such as spinach, soy, seafood and nuts. When arginine starts to be digested in our mouths, It makes our saliva more “basic” by raising the pH. This creates an environment that is unfavorable to the bacteria that cause tooth decay.
You can also help to accomplish this by brushing with baking soda or by mixing it with your toothpaste! We could go on and on about this so let me just close by saying, “Be true to your teeth or they’ll be false to you.” Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have or contact Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA today to schedule your next appointment and we can talk more about this.