Oral Health Nutrition

Like the rest of the body, the bones and teeth need a well-balanced diet. Eat a well-balanced diet based on ChooseMyPlate.gov. A good diet is especially important for a child’s growth and development.

What you eat and how often you eat can affect teeth. Bacteria live in the plaque that forms on teeth. When we eat food or drink beverages that contain sugar or starch, the bacteria produce acids that attack the tooth enamel and cause decay. Frequent snacking means frequent acid attacks (that each last for 20 minutes) and an increased chance of tooth decay. Eating soft, sticky, sweet foods that stick to the teeth may prolong acid attacks. If you must eat sugary foods, it is better to eat them with a meal.

Avoid bedtime snacks, pop, or beverages because they can stay on the teeth, bathing them in sugar and acid throughout the night and therefore causing more decay.

Soft Drinks Can Cause Tooth Erosion

Soft drinks, also known as soda or pop, have become a daily habit for a growing number of people, especially children, teens and young adults. This steady consumption of soft drinks has become a leading cause of tooth decay.

Drink water instead. It has no sugar, no acid, no calories and may contain fluoride — which actually makes teeth stronger.

Sugar in soft drinks combines with the bacteria in the mouth to form an acid. This acid attacks the enamel of the tooth and causes yet another acid attack with every sip. If you do consume a soft drink, swish your mouth with water to dilute the sugar and interrupt the decay process.

Parents should try to set a good example for their children by cutting down their own soft drink consumption as well as keeping access to soft drinks to a minimum. Cold water and milk should be made readily available instead for thirsty young children.

  • One 12-oz. can of regular soda contains 40 grams of sugar, which contains about 160 calories but little to no nutritional value.
  • An estimated 20% of 1 and 2 year olds consume about a cup of soft drinks a day.
  • Teens drink three times more soda than 20 years ago, often replacing milk.
  • Diet sodas actually have more acid in them than regular soda, leading to enamel erosion.
  • "Sport drinks” are no safer when it comes to tooth erosion.