When it comes to the relationship between what you eat and your teeth, most of us immediately think of the age-old notion that sugar causes tooth decay. While sugar does play a significant role, it’s essential to recognize that the impact of food on your teeth goes beyond just that, and not all of it is bad news.
Let’s delve into the mechanism of how sugar leads to cavities. It’s not the sugar itself that directly causes decay; rather, it serves as a food source for bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria then digest the sugar, converting it into an acidic byproduct known as plaque. This sticky plaque adheres to your teeth, gradually breaking down the hard outer enamel layer. Over time, the enamel weakens, forming cavities where bacteria can invade, leading to toothaches and even abscesses, which often require dental intervention like root canals or tooth extractions. Consequently, limiting sugar intake and maintaining thorough oral hygiene by brushing and flossing after consuming sugary foods is crucial for dental health.
Vitamin C also plays a vital role in maintaining healthy teeth. While citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit are well-known sources of Vitamin C, you can also find it in bell peppers, broccoli, and dark leafy greens like spinach. Vitamin C deficiency, historically known as scurvy, can lead to weak, spongy gums and eventual tooth loss. Interestingly, British sailors were nicknamed “Limeys” due to their consumption of citrus juice as a way to prevent scurvy and maintain better dental health compared to sailors from other countries. Additionally, Vitamin C boosts the immune system, enhancing its ability to combat infections that may arise in the mouth.