It is a popular belief that junk food is associated with health problems. You must have heard your doctor say that junk food is directly responsible for heart diseases. However, it does much more harm to your body than that.
Believe it or not, your dental health too is affected by junk food. You may ask – how does it affect your oral health if you brush and floss regularly?
The answer is, brushing and flossing are not enough to prevent the damages that occur by eating junk food. Furthermore, brushing and flossing do not clean your mouth completely. They only assist you in maintaining your dental hygiene.
Almost every junk food item that you intake has an oral health issue associated with it.
Hope you know that frequent fast food consumption will completely ruin your teeth. The adverse effects of junk foods on your dental health are more than you can even think of. Keep reading to find out the dental health issues associated with junk foods.
Effect of Junk Food on Dental Health
1 Starch is bad for your teeth
That burger you had last Saturday with some french fries and the large pizza you crave to have every week – what is common in them? Yes, they are all yummy. Unfortunately for your teeth, they both contain starch.
Starch tends to stick to the surface of your teeth and stay there for a long time. If you do not brush and floss adequately after having fast food, these food particles settle in your mouth.
What this means is that it is a feast for the bacteria in your mouth. This bacterial concentration will feed on the starches leading to infection, and eventually, tooth decay.
Bacterial settlement in your teeth for longer periods will also form plaque and tartar, which give way to gum disease, commonly known as gingivitis. Now, do you still crave that burger and pizza?
2 Dry fruits have added sugar
Dry fruits and even junk food, unlike fresh fruits, have added sugar in them. Sugar is harmful to your teeth. This is because it works like a bacteria magnet.
As you know, fruits already have a certain level of sugar content. Hence, this added amount does more harm than it should if you eat fresh fruits rather than dry ones.
The same is the case with candies and chocolates of any sort. Added sugar and preservatives are found in large quantities in candies, which could be very dangerous for your teeth and gums. Hard candies, gummies, and most candies contain high fructose corn syrup, which is unhealthy for your teeth and overall health.
3 Carbonated drinks damage the enamel
Carbonated beverages, especially soda pops, are harmful to your teeth. Since they cause damage to your enamel, they must be consumed in limited quantities. If you guessed that this is because of their high sugar content, you are correct.
You might already know that soft drinks have negative effects on your oral health. Sodas are loaded with sugars. Which makes them high in calories and low in nutritional value.
Carbonated drinks are highly acidic in nature, meaning they have a pH of less than 7. In simple terms, acidic food plays a role in eroding and wearing down the teeth’ enamel. This makes your teeth prone to erosion, as well as tooth decay.
4 The added sugar and salt in every fast food item
Fast food companies are primarily concerned about delivering the best-tasting food to your doorstep. To serve this purpose, hardly hesitate in putting salt and sugar in good proportion until the food tastes perfect.
The high content of salt and sugar makes your food stick to your teeth. As a result, you tend to develop tooth decay and cavities.
When your food has a high amount of sugar and salt, the food debris is more likely to stick to your teeth. This food debris in your mouth allows acids to build up along the surface of your teeth. Eventually, this will cause the enamel to erode and the tooth cavity or dental caries to reach the roots of your teeth.
Dental Issues Associated with Junk Food
Today’s fast-paced life and busy schedule have made you prefer junk foods over home-cooked fresh foods. Fast foods like pizzas, sandwiches, chips, french fries have reserved an important place on most of your plates.
Choosing such processed food items is never the healthiest option because certain additives in them are quite toxic and bad for your health.
For instance, the large amount of carbohydrates, sodium, and unhealthy fatty compounds found in processed foods tend to cause weight gain. Moreover, if you are a junk food consumer, you are highly at the stake of developing heart diseases, diabetes, and various life-threatening diseases.
1 They erode the teeth enamel
The fast foods and carbonated drinks you consume contain acidic compounds like amino acids, acrylamide, and phosphoric acids. If you consume more of these compounds, it will cause indigestion, nausea, heartburn, etc.
The acids present in these junk food tend to wear down the enamel layer and eventually erode the tooth enamel. In addition, it unveils the underlying soft tissues. Thus making cosmetic appliances like dental veneers (veneer teeth) the only option for repairs.
Keep in mind that if you have a bacterial infection on tissues underneath your enamel – it is irreversible and hard to treat.
Here are the pH values of some food and drinks. The more acidic your food is, the lower is the pH number. Anything food with a pH value lower than 5.5 is likely to cause erosion. Alkalis have a high pH number and cancel out the acid effects of sugars on your teeth. pH 7 is neutral – between acid and alkali.
Acidic food and drinks especially alcoholic drinks are responsible for causing dental erosion – the process of the gradual dissolving of the tooth enamel. Mineral water pH 7.6, milk pH 6.9, cheddar cheese pH 5.9, orange juice pH 3.8, grapefruit pH 3.3, pickles pH 3.2 are a few food items commonly consumed.
2 They are too sticky, causing plaque
The starch contents in junk foods make them delicious and more sticky hence should be avoided. After eating, the leftover debris generally gets stuck over the teeth surfaces and lodged between your teeth gaps. They reside there until you clean your teeth.
So your dentists will suggest brushing and flossing your teeth after immediately having junk food to minimize the harmful impact.
If not, that debris will feed up the oral bacteria to accumulate over the teeth’ surface. Thus forming plaque on teeth. In the long term, it will provoke bad breath, gum diseases, etc.
3 Excessive sugar causes tooth cavities
The excessive amount of sugar in junk food and carbonated drinks like soda acts as catalysts for your oral infection. The sugary compounds feed on the microbes to produce acids. These acids act on your teeth’ surface and damage the enamel and also cause cavities.
On the other hand, sweetened substances impact your overall health as it increases the risk of developing diabetes.
If you do not maintain your blood glucose, you are highly prone to gum or periodontal disease. Which will lead to jaw bone infection and teeth loss if left untreated.
Should You Eat Snacks?
It is better for your oral health if you only eat 3 meals a day instead of snacking for 7 to 10 times a day. Suppose you do need to snack between meals, select food items that do not contain sugar.
Fruit does contain acids, which can erode your teeth. However, it will only damage your teeth if you eat an unusually large amount. Also, try not to consume a lot of dried fruit as it is high in sugar.
If you do eat fruit as a snack, try to eat something alkaline such as cheese afterward. Savory snacks are always better, such as cheese, raw vegetables, nuts, and breadsticks.
Should You Eat Sweets?
The main point to understand is that it is not the amount of sugar you consume but how often you do it. You can eat sweet food, but they are allowed and should be consumed only at mealtimes.
To help reduce tooth decay and cavity, cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks. Select sugar-free varieties. Chewing gum and confectionery contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol that might help to reduce tooth decay.
Food with high sugar content can also cause a range of health problems like heart disease and being overweight.
To your delight, junk food is not really harmful when you consume it in a controlled manner. When junk food is consumed in moderation, junk food is a nice treat even for adults. Complications only arise when you consume them too frequently. However, when you consume them too often junk food can lead to severe oral and overall health problems.
Both your oral and overall health are linked in several ways that many of you do not realize. Junk foods are responsible for a majority of the dental issues encountered today.
The relation between its consumption and deteriorating dental health is right in front of you. The question that remains is, do you want to put a dent on your beautiful smile?