Research has proven that eating fast food is not good for your health, but did you know it’s not good for your oral health either? Fast foods lead to health problems such as obesity and diabetes, but it can also increase your risk of developing cavities and gum disease. You can’t order a cheeseburger without having a soda to go with it, right? The sugars and acid in soda break down your tooth enamel and make them more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities.
Your teeth and gums are evidence of the adage, “you are what you eat.” Fast-food combination meals usually contain high-fat meats, white bread, soft drinks and French fries, all of which create the ideal environment for cavity causing bacteria to flourish.
Fast Food and Oral Health, What’s the Connection
- The combination of high fat meats and simple carbohydrates ferment and leave by-products in the grooves of your teeth. These areas are difficult to clean and help bacteria to thrive. The toxins produced by the bacteria easily destroy the enamel and can cause cavities and gum disease.
- Oral bacteria thrive on simple sugars, which are produced when you eat foods rich in carbohydrates. These foods are broken down into simple sugars and starches and the interaction between oral bacteria and simple sugars create harsh acids that have the same effect as sugary food, eroding tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay, tooth sensitivity, gum disease, and more.
- Added salt is not good for your oral health. Research at several fast-food restaurants indicates that a single fast-food meal contains 1,300 mg of sodium, which is more than half of the upper recommended limit for the day. Teeth rely on calcium to produce structure and strength and a high-sodium diet causes your body to excrete calcium, which leads to tooth loss and possibly osteoporosis!
- Soft Drinks can wear down tooth enamel. The sugars found in carbonated beverages will break down the enamel of your teeth and make them more prone to tooth decay and cavities. Just one 12-ounce can of soda contains 9.75 teaspoons of sugar. That’s more than the American Heart Association recommends for an entire day!
- Soda adds 156 excess calories to your daily intake and the sugar in soda has been linked to various health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, fatty liver, metabolic syndrome and arthritis. And yet, sugary drinks remain the largest source of added sugar in the United States. Soda isn’t the only culprit. Lemonade, iced tea, energy drinks, fruit juice, coffee drinks, sports drinks and sweetened waters are not good for your waistline or for your gum line.
- Diabetes can impact gum health and eating fast food on a regular basis can increase the risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes can also lead to dental problems. Studies have shown that people suffering from diabetes are at higher risk of developing periodontal disease. It’s important for diabetics to maintain good blood sugar control, which in turn, lessens its impact on your oral health.
According to the Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health, dental problems greatly impact every age group in the United States:
- Cavities are the single most common chronic childhood disease and are five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.
- More than 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental related illness.
- Over75 percent of adults show signs of periodontal or gingival disease.
- Employed adults lose more than 164 million hours of work each year due to dental disease or dental office visits.
What is the Solution?
A well-balanced diet and proper oral hygiene are the key to having healthy teeth and gums and overall health.
Find Alternatives to Fast Food
In order to protect your teeth and promote good oral hygiene for yourself and the rest of your family, look for alternatives to fast food. Fresh foods made at home are more satisfying, more nutritious and cost less money than eating at a fast food restaurant.
Plan your meals and snacks for the week and prepare large batches of easy foods like brown rice, beans, stir-fried or roasted vegetables, and salads. Use food storage containers to pack up serving sizes that can be thrown together with a lean meat for a nutritious dinner. Cut up veggies and fruit to have on hand, eat nuts instead of chips. Cheese, and boiled eggs are also great snacks that provide protein and calcium, and strengthen your teeth. If you have healthy snacks and a good meal on hand, you’re far less likely to go through the drive up window on your way home.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
If you eat fast food, always brush and floss your teeth 30 minutes after you’ve eaten. If you don’t have a toothbrush and floss available, rinse your mouth with water and chew on sugarless gum. Removing the buildup of food debris can limit the harm caused by eating that cheeseburger.
See Your Dentist On a Regular Basis
Dr. Ashley Niles of Niles Family Dentistry is passionate about a wellness lifestyle. She strives to be an example to her patients by keeping her teeth and body healthy with a balanced diet, proper exercise, and an overall healthy approach to life.
As an Eco-friendly dentist, she promotes overall wellness for her patients and even offers a discount for those who ride their bikes to their dental appointments. Dr. Niles uses the most advanced dental technologies available, and provides a wide range of dental services for the whole family.
If you are concerned about how your diet may be affecting your teeth, make an appointment at (720) 744-0001. Located in Niwot, Colorado at 136 2nd Ave., Suite 101, Dr. Niles also provides dental care to patients in Boulder, Longmont and other areas of northern Colorado.
We are tomorrow what we eat today. Take your oral and overall health into your hands and begin making the changes needed today. Dr. Niles will help you enjoy better oral health which leads to good physical health.