Food affects a person’s dental health a great deal. Teeth can be worn down simply from normal chewing of food. Fruit and fruit juices that have citric acid, like lemons and oranges as well as sodas and vinegar can cause the surface of the tooth to be worn away.

The Bad

Dental caries or cavities are caused by bacteria, fermentable carbohydrates and a vulnerable tooth surface. The bacteria that’s most responsible for dental caries is streptococcus mutans, which thrives on the sugars in foods. As it feeds it releases acids, some of which are strong enough to eat away the enamel on the surface of the tooth. Enamel is the strongest substance in the human body.

S. mutans also helps the formation of plaque, a sticky material that clings not just to natural teeth but to crowns, dentures and implants above the gumline. Plaque that’s found below the gumline is largely formed by bacteria that can thrive without oxygen. Sugar and carbohydrates, which include starches, help bacteria proliferate in dental plaque. Sucrose is the worst offender when it comes to the creation of dental caries. It’s followed by glucose, which is found in honey,fruits and vegetables, fructose, whites found in honey and fruits and maltose, which is found in grains. Though sucrose is associated with white and brown sugars, it’s also found in many fruit and vegetables like bananas, peaches, melons and sweet potatoes. The processed foods and beverages that are now part of the western diet also hasten the formation of plaque on the teeth. Hard candies and breath mints with sugar are even worse, for they bathe the teeth in sugar for a long time. The bacteria that these sugars help to grow need to be cleaned out of the mouth by regular brushing and flossing.

Scientists find that when a person eats a sugary food the pH of the plaque that’s on the tooth becomes acidic enough to start to eating into the enamel. This condition lasts for about an hour before the saliva starts to reverse the process of decay. But when a person eats sugary foods all day long, there’s no time for the body to halt the destruction of the tooth enamel.

The Good

However, eating fibrous foods can help keep the mouth healthy by stimulating the production of saliva in the mouth. These foods include apples, carrots and celery. Aged hard cheese also protects against dental caries because it releases calcium and phosphates that help reverse acid’s breakdown of tooth enamel.

Your Thoughts

How does food personally affect your teeth? Please let us know in a comment below.

About the Author: Casey Haslem has been writing about health and wellness for a number of years. If you would like to know more about how to protect your teeth, Temple Dentist and Benchmark Family Dental can help.

Cory Kemp is the founder and chief editor of He's committed to providing consumers with helpful tips for saving money at the dentist. Follow me on Google +