Aside from practicing good oral hygiene, maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding harmful foods and drinks plays an important part in attaining good oral health.
Some foods such as sweets and sugary drinks contain sugars that the naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth eat. When bacteria digest these sugars, they produce plaque and acid which breaks down tooth structure and forms cavities (decay). Other foods and drinks, such as juices and sports/energy drinks, are not only high in sugar, but also high in acid, further contributing to cavity formation. Sticky foods, such as candies and dried fruit, are also harmful because they linger on the teeth and gradually release sugar and produce acid. In order to prevent cavity formation due to these acid attacks, it is important to avoid sweets, juices, sports/energy drinks, and sticky foods. When you do eat such foods and drinks, it's important to rinse afterwards with water to wash away and dilute the sugars in your mouth. It's also recommended to wait at least 30 minutes to brush your teeth after consuming acidic foods or drinks, as brushing on top of the effect acid has on the tooth structure can cause more destruction.
Luckily, our saliva naturally contains minerals that help strengthen tooth structure after acid attacks. For this reason, it's important to give enough time for your saliva to replenish by avoiding frequent snacking. Also, the fluoride in our toothpaste and water strengthen teeth by reinforcing damaged tooth structure with important minerals. Even some foods, such as plain milk and cheese, act as a buffer when eaten before sugary and acidic foods/drinks. Another good defense, a sugar substitute found in chewing gum, xylitol, inhibits cavity formation by starving bacteria to death.
*Please note the people depicted in the photographs are models and not real patients.*