We commonly attribute teeth damage to sugary foods. This is because sugar is said to combine with the bacteria present in the mouth, in turn forming an acid that causes tooth decay. However, did you know savoury foods and snacks can also harm your oral health, especially your teeth? Speaking with OnlyMyHealth, Dr Shilpa Khullar, Head, Department of Dentistry, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad, discusses the impact of foods other than sweets on your teeth.
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Can Savoury Foods Damage Teeth?
Dr Khullar says, “Savoury food items can cause tooth decay. These foods aren't necessarily bad for you in moderation, but consuming them frequently or in large amounts can increase the risk of tooth decay.”
According to the doctor, savoury foods often contain starches, which break down into sugars in the mouth. When bacteria in the mouth feed on these sugars, they produce acid that can wear away the enamel on the teeth, leading to cavities.
In addition, Dr Khullar says, “Some savoury foods, such as those that are sticky or chewy, can get stuck in the teeth and provide a breeding ground for bacteria, increasing the risk of tooth decay.”
Savoury Foods Potentially Harmful For Your Teeth
Here is a list of savoury foods harmful for teeth:
- Chips and other crunchy snacks that are high in starch and can get stuck in teeth
- Crackers and breadsticks that are high in refined carbohydrates and can break down into sugars in the mouth
- Pretzels and popcorn that are often coated in sugar or caramel
- Sauces and condiments that are high in sugar, such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, and teriyaki sauce
- Pickled vegetables and other acidic foods that can erode tooth enamel over time
- Canned or processed foods that may contain added sugars or preservatives
- Sticky or chewy savoury foods, such as beef jerky or dried fruit, that can get stuck in teeth and promote tooth decay
The doctor, however, suggests not all savoury foods are equally harmful to teeth. “Foods that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, such as lean meats, poultry, and fish, are less likely to contribute to tooth decay than those that are high in starch and sugar, such as potato chips and crackers,” she adds.
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How To Maintain Oral Health?
Just like how you care for your heart, brain, lungs and liver, it is important to care for your oral health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), oral health is a key indicator of overall health, well-being and quality of life. Oral diseases are among the most common noncommunicable diseases worldwide, affecting an estimated 350 crore people, as per the global health agency.
Dr Khullar says, “In general, the best way to prevent tooth decay is to practise good oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing regularly, and to limit your intake of sugary and starchy foods, whether they are sweet or savoury.”