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How your diet impacts your dental and oral health

How much do you know about the connection between the quality of your diet and your dental health? What we eat and drink plays a major role in the development of dental issues such as tooth decay, enamel erosion, gum disease and oral cancer. However, it’s not just sugar that can be detrimental to our teeth – foods that are high in acids can lead to the erosion of enamel, the hard protective coating of the tooth.

According to the Oral Health Foundation, almost one in three (31%) of adults have tooth decay, and two in three (66%) of adults have visible plaque. What you eat and drink plays a major role in the development of these issues, and if left untreated, could lead to more serious conditions that impact your oral and overall health.

The two main things to look out for in your diet are sugar and acid. Sugar reacts with the bacteria in plaque and produces harmful acids, leading to tooth decay, and acid erodes the enamel on our teeth, causing sensitive teeth.

Foods and drinks that are high in sugar include:

  • Sweets, chocolates, cakes and biscuits
  • Fizzy drinks and milky drinks with added sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Fruit juices and smoothies
  • Pastries, buns and puddings
  • Sugary breakfast cereals
  • Jams, marmalades, honey, syrups and sweet sauces
  • Ice cream
  • Table sugar added to tea or coffee

Similarly, foods and drinks that are very acidic are:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Soft drinks/fizzy drinks
  • Beer, cider, prosecco and wine
  • Orange juice
  • Vinegar
  • Pickles

Instead of these foods and drinks, try swapping out the sugary and acidic snacks for healthier alternatives. Water and milk are the healthiest drinks for teeth, according to the Oral Health Foundation, and diluted sugar-free fruit drinks are the safest alternatives to those. A diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals and fruit and vegetables is essential to preventing dental issues, including foods that are low in sugar such as cheese, nuts, green leafy vegetables, wholegrains and sugar-free substitutes.

Reducing your alcohol intake can also be beneficial for your oral health. Drinking too much has also been linked to an increased risk of developing mouth cancer, and further the combined effect of smoking and drinking alcohol puts you at high risk for developing dental and oral issues.

As well as being mindful about the quality of your diet, drinking plenty of water can also help to prevent issues like dental decay. This is because fluoride, a natural mineral found in water, is thought to make tooth enamel more resistant to acid and reduce plaque bacteria’s ability to produce acid.

Finally, it is important to maintain a good standard of care when it comes to your teeth – regular brushing last thing at night and at least one other time during the day with a toothpaste containing fluoride is ideal for preventing dental issues.

If you have a healthy diet, but your dentist has failed to spot tooth decay or other dental health issues that have caused you pain or the need to undergo further treatment, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information contact The Dental Law Partnership to find out whether you are eligible to make a claim, or complete our online claim form.