Obviously, the best way to prevent cavities is to avoid them altogether, and the good news is that a diet that helps prevent cavities can also help heal existing cavities.
The foods you eat on a daily basis have a direct impact on your oral microbiome and saliva, and when you eat the wrong foods (more on those later), you create an ideal breeding ground for the bacteria that causes tooth decay.
Additionally, the quality of your diet determines whether you are getting the necessary nutrients & abstaining from the “bad” foods, to support the teeth’s natural remineralization process. The word remineralization refers to the process of restoring minerals to demineralized areas—typically bones, teeth, or any other parts of the body that require certain minerals for their structure.
Tooth enamel can become demineralized when “bad” bacteria turns sugars into acids. If the demineralized area is small it can remineralize. If the demineralized area becomes too large a cavity will form and you will need to get the tooth restored. The process of remineralization requires specific minerals in your saliva.
Let’s take a closer look at the specific ways to remineralize your teeth and stop demineralization.
Cut Out Sugar
Everyone knows that sugar is bad for your teeth. Bacteria eats the sugar and produces acids that dissolve enamel. If you do eat sugary foods the best time is after a meal and not between meals. When you eat between meals the amount of time your teeth are exposed to acids is increased.
Reduce Starchy Foods
Starchy foods, such as potatoes, rice, and bread are loaded with simple carbohydrates that can feed bacteria that dissolve teeth.
Consume Fruit and Fruit Juices in Moderation
While fruit is part of a healthy diet, some fruits are acidic and can contribute to demineralization of enamel. Fruit juices are even worse. Juices are acidic and some contain added sugar.
Get Enough Vitamins and Minerals
Calcium and phosphorous in your saliva is needed for remineralization.
Consider Taking Probiotics
Some bacteria are good for your body. These are known as probiotics. The following probiotics are potentially helpful in oral health and remineralization.
You can find probiotics in supplement form and some yogurts contain probiotics.
Chew Sugarless Gum
The action of chewing naturally stimulates saliva flow. Sugarless gum is a great idea after a meal or after a midday snack. Gum sweetened with Xylitol has the added benefit of decreasing “bad” bacteria in your mouth.
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking water does several thinks to help remineralization. It flushes food debris and bacteria from your mouth, it helps produce more saliva, and it’s a healthy alternative to sugar drinks.
As you can see, there are several ways to prevent and even reverse small cavities by changing what you eat. In addition to what you do at home, there are a number of things your dentist can do to help remineralize your teeth. More on these in a future blog.