The foods and beverages you consume play a large role in the health of your mouth. When you eat foods containing sugars and carbohydrates, bacteria in your mouth convert them to acid that can cause cavities. The more often you eat, the more your teeth are exposed to possible decay.
The best foods for a healthy mouth are cheese, meat, nuts, and milk. These provide calcium and phosphorus that remineralize teeth and help prevent cavities.
Crunchy fruits and vegetables are also good choices. They have a high water content that dilutes the effects of the sugars in them and also stimulate the flow of saliva that washes away food particles and neutralizes acid. Eat acidic foods, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and lemons, as part of a meal to minimize the effects of their acid on your teeth.
Candy, cookies, cakes, pies, breads, muffins, potato chips, pretzels, French fries, bananas, raisins, and other dried fruits can harm your teeth. They contain large amounts of sugar and/or can stick to your teeth. Cough drops can also contribute to tooth decay.
The best beverages are fluoridated water, milk, and unsweetened tea. Limit your consumption of sugary drinks and avoid drinking them over long periods of time because that continuously exposes your teeth to sugar and acid.
Sugar substitutes, such as erythritol, isomalt, sorbitol, mannitol, saccharin, avantame, aspartame (Equal), acesulfame potassium (Sunett), neotame (Newtame), and sucralose (Splenda) are better than natural sugar. They are digested differently and do not feed bacteria in the mouth and produce acid.
Sugar-free foods do not have sugar added during processing, but they can contain other natural sweeteners that can be harmful to your teeth. Check the label for ingredients that end in “-ose.” Those are usually natural sweeteners.
Chewing sugarless gum can loosen trapped food particles and increase the flow of saliva. Some types of gum have ingredients that can reduce the risk of developing cavities and heal areas where cavities are starting to form.