5 Questions About the Food We Eat and Our Teeth

May 13, 2022 Cat Keane 0 Comments

Woman eating cupcake


Brush before or after meals?

Your teeth can handle anything. At least, that’s what we assume. Thoughtlessly, everything disappears into your mouth and your teeth do their work without protesting. Because they are strong. Very strong. But are they really strong enough?

1. How does nutrition affect our teeth?

The mouth is a beautiful organ. And eating and drinking, besides talking and kissing, is his most important task. Our mouth is really made for that: the teeth and molars are rock hard. That is actually very special because thanks to the glaze on the outside and dentin underneath, they can grind, eat and eat for a hundred years.

In principle, the mouth is therefore made to eat and drink. Still, you can’t just expect everything from your mouth: there are foods that lead to damage. In addition, teeth and molars do not heal. The enamel of teeth does not grow. Any damage is therefore irreversible and can only be solved with artificial interventions.

2. What foods are bad and what effect do they have on the teeth?

All foods that contain acid are harmful to the teeth, but sweet products also have a negative effect. The bacteria in our mouth convert sugars into acid. Foods in which sweet and sour come together are actually the so-called assassins of the enamel.

Soft drinks, energy drinks and sweet alcoholic refreshments often contain a combination of sweet and sour. The same applies to sweets, for example the sour rag and the candy spray.

However, what many people do not know is that fruit juices and fruits often also have sweet and sour components. I recently had a patient with obvious signs of tooth erosion. The cause turned out to be quite difficult to determine at first: but she ate fruit all day long. Very healthy, but disastrous for the teeth.

The acidic component in food and drink dissolves the enamel and therefore wears off. You can compare it with natural ice. If it has frozen considerably, the ice is rock hard, but when it then thaws, a surface layer of soft ice is created. When you skate over it, you scrape off bits of ice. And that’s exactly what happens to the teeth: erosion.


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3. How bad is tooth erosion?

It’s much worse than we all think. Before you even realize it, it’s already pretty bad. If you have pain, the enamel is already completely dissolved and the dentin is exposed. And because of the pain in the mouth, you function less well. When the tooth erosion increases further, we have to restore the spots. If it gets worse, a crown, nerve treatment or even loss of molar or tooth follow.

The damage is irreversible, so if we don’t change our eating and drinking behavior, it will only get worse. That not only gives a large cost item, but the consequences of tooth erosion are also ugly. The enamel turns yellow, wears off and results in brown spots. You also get smaller and shorter teeth.

We are currently researching how much tooth erosion occurs. There are no exact figures yet, but all dental hygienists and dentists in the Netherlands see that tooth erosion is increasing. It is the new enemy of the teeth. In the past, caries (cavities) was the biggest problem, now erosion. In addition to the culprits in our diet, it also seems less obvious nowadays to pay a lot of attention to your teeth.

4. What can you do yourself to prevent tooth erosion?

Try to follow these advices:

  • Visit the dentist twice a year. A dentist or dental hygienist will see that there is tooth erosion
    before you are in pain
  • Limit the number of eating and drinking moments to six or seven per day, of which up to one or two moments are sweets, fruits or other acidic foods and drinks. That way you give saliva the chance to neutralize the acidity in the mouth again.
  • Do not use acidic drinks or foods before bedtime.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes with a soft toothbrush and a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Fluoride makes the enamel strong.
  • Water, milk and tea are harmless drinks, which, as it were, wash away the acid. So drink a lot of water in between. Especially on a night out with a lot of soft drinks or alcoholic refreshments.
  • Drink sour drinks preferably with a straw and swallow it immediately. That way you bring it past your teeth and the acid can cause relatively little damage.

5. When is the best time to brush your teeth: before or after eating?

It’s best to brush your teeth an hour after eating. If that doesn’t work, it’s better to clean them before meals. By brushing you clean your teeth and administer fluoride. You also have this effect if you brush before eating.

Certainly the breakfast contains sweet and sour components, which affect the glaze. This makes your teeth extra vulnerable and if you then rake over them with a toothbrush you damage more enamel. By giving your mouth an hour to neutralize, you cause less damage.