When my boys recently had their teeth checked, their dentist warned them that summer is the worst time for cavities. Parental rules relax, allowing more candy and soda into the mix at the same time brushing slackens.
As much as I hate to admit it, I can see this happening in our household. Does anyone else have a tween boy who thinks brushing and showering are a sprint? He has mastered speed, but effectiveness … not so much. I’m not sure those teeth are being cleaned as they should.
Tooth decay begins with bacteria that naturally live in the mouth. These bacteria burn sugar in order to thrive and during this process convert sugar into acid. The acid then eats away at a tooth’s enamel, which begins the decay and cavity process.
So sugary foods such as candy, soda, sports drinks and ice cream provide fuel for the bacteria, but there is actually a trifecta of criteria that make foods bad for teeth: anything that has sugar or acid or is sticky.
Food-based causes of tooth decay
Sugary foods fuel bacteria. Other causes of decay include:
Eat to support tooth health
My childhood dentist regularly told me that if I was in a pinch, chewing parsley was a “natural” way to brush my teeth. I didn’t buy it back then, but there is truth to his advice, according to the American Dental Association.
The foods that damage teeth have been shown to damage overall health, and the foods that are favorable to teeth tend to be favorable to health. No surprise. Just one more reminder of why we should eat well and avoid sugar. Not that any of our kids wanted one more reminder.