Joy C. Arend, DMD

When it Comes to Packaged Food, Looks Can be Deceiving

7685364860_481481c46b_bEast Portland Dentistry is a huge advocate of healthy habits that promote good oral health. These include the obvious, like not smoking or wearing a mouthguard when participating in sports activities– but did you know that diet is an essential part of your oral health too?

Your diet, your dentition

The food you eat not only provides nutrients that support healthy gums and teeth, it can also make the difference between feeding cavity-producing bacteria— or starving them. Whether or not you are making your mouth a hospitable environment for bacteria depends directly on the amount of sugar in your diet– and the less the better.

Sugar is not your friend

Sugar is food for bacteria. Maltose, sucrose, fructose, lactose– they love it all. In fact, some species of bacteria can actually alter their metabolism to switch the type of sugar they feed on to match their environment! When it comes to our mouths, we care about how much sugar we feed our bacteria because the metabolic byproduct of that sugary meal is acid. Acid breaks down the enamel on your teeth and forms cavities.

Beware the “health” claims of packaged foods!

Packaged foods often claim to be “healthy,” “natural,” or “part of a well-rounded diet.” But check the labels… far too often, one of the main ingredients in these so-called health foods (think: trail bars and other packaged snack foods) is sugar! They may have a low-fat content, but these handy snacks are not health food if they aren’t healthy for your teeth!

But there’s a solution:

How do you get around this? Well you can start by reading labels. But really, the best healthy choice for your mouth is to eat whole foods— including snacks. Consider bringing apples or carrots with you, instead of that raisin-and-chocolate-chip-packed “healthy” granola bar. Or give nuts a try– for a satisfying snack that keeps you feeling full for hours. One good rule of thumb when you’re shopping for snacks: skip the “middle” of the grocery store and choose snacks only on the outside aisles where the fresh foods are. Those whole foods are the real healthy options.

Looking for more ideas on how diet can make a difference in your oral health? Talk to Dr. Arend for some of our professional tips at your next appointment; we look forward to seeing you!

Photo Credit: slightly everything via Compfight cc

 

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