Why it is that some people get cavities but others don’t? There are many reasons, but none as powerful as knowing how foods break down in your mouth and contribute to cavities. Thanks to saliva, carbohydrates break down into sugar in your mouth. As the carbohydrates are breaking down, two things are happening that help form cavities. Bacteria are using the sugar as food which produces acid as a waste product. Those acids eat holes in the teeth, causing cavities.
The great carbohydrate cause
Every time you eat a carbohydrate, acids rise in your mouth for 20 minutes. This is especially an issue for grazers or frequent snackers. Examples of foods that cause acids in the mouth:
· breakfast cereals (including oatmeal)
· breads and other refined flour products
· crackers, cookies, cakes and pretzels
· raisins and other dried fruit
· rice and pasta (this includes all of those wonderful gluten free foods)
· soft drinks and fruit juice
· beer and wine (sorry parents, but read on, there is a solution!)
· sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar and candy
Foods that benefit the teeth
So does that mean you have to avoid these foods altogether? No, but it means when you eat these foods, you need to make sure to end your meal or snack with a food that will neutralize the acids and begin to balance your mouth’s pH. That way, instead of bathing the teeth in acid, you are beginning to remineralize the teeth. Some examples of food and drink that balance the acids are:
· cheese (harder is better)
· nuts and seeds
· pineapple (surprising, huh?)
· full fat milk
· plain yogurt (preferably full fat or Greek)
See, parents? I wouldn’t leave you high and dry.
Cheese with your wine or a few almonds with your beer – now we are talking! Sorry no peanuts….they are in fact legumes and not really a nut.
For the little ones in your life, work to end a meal with tooth protective foods. This can make a huge difference to the strength their young teeth.
The one great secret of xylitol
There is one other thing that can trump any of the foods mentioned thus far, and that is xylitol. Xylitol is sweet like sugar, but its effects on bacteria are the exact opposite. Fear not; xylitol is not a chemical, artificial sweetener. It is a naturally occurring sweetener found in birch trees and corn, and our bodies produce it daily (around 15 grams).
Xylitol does not break down and feed the plaque like regular sugar. Instead it tricks the plaque into thinking it is food, yet delivers no nutrients to the plaque and essentially starves the plaque. Having xylitol at the end of your meal will take away acidity and put minerals into the tooth surface. It is recommended to ingest 6-10 grams (1-2 teaspoons) throughout the day.
Having a bit after each meal and a teaspoon in your morning’s water will help you satisfy the recommended daily “therapeutic” dose.
Xylitol is available in many forms such as gum, candies, mints, lollipops, caramels, chocolate and granules which look and act like table sugar. If you are using xylitol to bake or cook with, the ratio is equal 1:1.
Have you had any remarkable stories about xylitol or food combining? Leave a comment here and tell us about it.
If you are interested in purchasing xylitol, here is a link to products offered by Natural Gumption.
About Carrie Ibbetson RDH
Carrie is a dental hygienist, oral health coach and creator of 21 Days to a Healthy Mouth, an online course that teaches you how to care for your mouth with lifelong results. Her daily “bite-size” pieces help you to understand what it takes to achieve a healthy mouth make it easy to learn and implement at home.
Carrie owns and operates Natural Gumption, where she studies and recommends natural oral health care products that are effective and deliver great results. She helps families all over the world via Skype, her blog and works locally in person as well as an oral health coach, a personal trainer for your mouth. She is happy to consult with anyone who may have questions. Contact her at www.NaturalGumption.com.