Food Friends And Enemies Of Dental Decay

Tooth decay is a common disease and a major oral health problem in most industrialized countries. According to the World Health Organization between 60% and 90%  of children and adults worldwide suffer from tooth decay. Tooth decay is defined as an active process of tooth destruction resulting from interactions between teeth, food and bacteria. These long-term destructive forces eventually form cavities, also known as dental caries.

Foods That Help To Prevent Dental Decay

Many things that you eat and drink can actually prevent dental decay, Dr. Tim Salivan says. Water, slightly fluoridated water in particular, is a viable and healthy way to keep plaque from attaching to your teeth while also aiding in the digestion of food particles. A dry mouth leaves your teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay. There are also several specific foods that can ward off dental decay, ranging from cheese to fruit:


Apples are named the #1 fruit to chomp by dentists around the globe. Apples are unique in that they contain mouth-cleansing properties which no other fruit tenders. Plus, this crisp fruit helps to stimulate saliva, which helps to naturally clean plaque from your teeth and freshen your breath. If citrus is your go-to fruit a good choice is lemons or limes. Both of these sour fruits contain an ample amount of Vitamin C, which helps to cure acute inflammation of your gums and promote a healthy mouth overall. Think fresh when choosing fruits, as dried fruits can leave a sugary and sticky surface on your teeth, which encourages bacterial growth and acid production.


Crispiness is important when choosing vegetables to help keep plaque away. Carrots, cucumbers and celery are excellent “mouth cleaning” vegetables. Even cooked vegetables that are high in fiber will help you to ward off decay, as the fiber in these vegetables helps to stimulate saliva flow, which is a natural defense against cavities.

Dairy Products, Including Cheese, Milk And Yogurt

Calcium is a mineral that is found in our bones and teeth, and the calcium in dairy products can help keep our teeth strong and disease- free. Low-fat cheese cubes, skim milk and a Greek yogurt parfait all make great snacks that help sneak extra calcium in your diet. Another amazing benefit of calcium rich foods is that the calcium in these foods mixes with plaque and sticks to your teeth, thus protecting them from acids that can cause tooth decay. In addition, calcium helps to rebuild tooth enamel.


Tea time is not only relaxing, but it also keeps your teeth and gums healthy. The compounds in green and black tea specifically interact with the plaque in your mouth, causing the suppression and destruction of bacteria. Once the bacteria is prevented from growing and producing tooth-attacking acid your mouth is instantly healthier, and you are less likely to experience gum disease and inflammation.

Sugarless Gum

Before you start blowing bubbles be certain that the gum you are chewing is sugar-free. Only sugarless gum can help your dental health by heading off harmful acid from your teeth after eating. The component xylitol, which is found in sugar-free chewing gum, has been shown to have decay-preventative qualities. Studies completed have indicated that xylitol likely inhibits the growth of Streptococcus mutans, or the oral bacteria that cause cavities.

Foods That Promote Tooth Decay


Now that you are aware of what foods to consume to help prevent tooth decay, it is time to discuss the foods that will likely cause tooth decay. Sugary treats, such as candy, cake and cookies lead to tooth decay. If you cannot realistically keep these sugary snacks out of your diet you should attempt to choose these treats wisely. Avoid sugary candies that stay in your mouth for long periods of time, such as suckers, lollipops and caramels.

The longer that you keep the sugar substances in your mouth the harder it is for your saliva to rinse the excess sugar away. When you do succumb to a decadent piece of chocolate cake after dinner just be sure to brush your teeth well afterwards. Carbonated soft drinks and sweetened juices also lead to the destruction of healthy tooth enamel. Try to limit your consumption of these products, and use a straw when you do consume them to keep as much of the sugary components off of your enamel as possible.

While lemons and limes were mentioned as good fruits to enjoy for optimal dental health, take care not to suck on lemons or limes for long periods of time, as the acid in these fruits can eventually erode the enamel on your teeth in time.

Preventing tooth decay may seem like a daunting task, but it is absolutely achievable if you consume the right foods, and limit those that cause dental caries. Avoid smoking tobacco products and consuming excess alcohol, and take care to brush your teeth after every meal. Maintaining a healthy mouth and keeping tooth decay at bay is within the reach of everyone.

The following two tabs change content below.

Neha Kava

National Registered Dietitian at
Neha Kava is a National Certified Registered Dietitian in India. She likes to share her knowledge about daily health, nutritition and diet tips. You can contact her on [email protected]

Latest posts by Neha Kava (see all)

1 thought on “Food Friends And Enemies Of Dental Decay”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.