Foods That Are Good & Bad for Your Teeth

D: Dan Goldberg / J: John (Radio Host)

J: Welcome back. My guest today is Dr. Goldberg of Go Dental in Calgary, Alberta. Doctor, just before the break we were talking about all the different of ways we can replace teeth that either fall out or have to be removed. We talked about bridges, we talked about implants and you talked a little bit about the diet the people have and the foods that are actually causing more and more tooth loss; that’s what you were saying, correct?

D: Yes, it is.

Children's gummy vitamins are damaging their teeth

J: What kinds of foods are good for our teeth?

D: Everyone knows bad foods, right. You have to understand why are they bad? And when you understand why they are bad, then I can tell about what foods we should eat that are good for you. The obvious one, the bad ones, candy, pop, anything that has any carbohydrate, anything sticky. In fact, you know this is something that really annoys me, it’s a little bit off topic but it’s worth mentioning right now. Even things like vitamins - we feed our kids these vitamins, right? And, as adults we take them too but I am going to focus on kids because adults’ vitamins are different than vitamins for kids. John, let me ask you a question, do you have kids?

J: No. I don’t.

D: OK. Well, you still… hopefully will be able to answer the question.

J: Probably!

D: What do you think of the vitamins the kids eat? When we both of us grew up, we used to have Flintstone vitamins.

J: Yes, the chewable.

D: Yeah, you remember those! The powder, you eat them, they dissolve, done, right?

J: Yeah.

D: So, what type of vitamins do you think are in the market today for kids?

J: Oh, I hear the commercials all the time working in radio; it’s all those gummy chewable things, right?

D: Exactly! It sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it?

J: Gets them to eat their vitamins, yeah!

D: But you know what, they are horrible for teeth. If you look at the ingredients, there is sugar in there and the idea of gummy bears, they stick into the teeth and they stay there for like hours on end. And you know, there are vitamins – the vitamins are good but it’s the stuff that is all piled in to make the gummy bear vitamin. As a dentist, I was shocked I was looking around, like it’s so hard to find non-gummy vitamins. They are out there, and in fact Flintstone kid vitamins still exist, but are very hard to find. So, that’s an aside that I wanted to mention, I thought very interesting. The other thing a lot of people don’t think about is, it’s not just about the food, it’s what you drink. The most common causes of cavities are related to drinks. The number one reason why people have, not just one cavity but maybe 10/15 cavities in the mouth, it’s because they are, you know, drinking any pop, any ice tea, really, on the market, it’s almost every single drink you can buy out there. The main ingredient you want to avoid is anything that has acid in it. If you look at all the ingredients, usually somewhere in there it’s going to say something about acids. And in the end, it does not matter what type of acid. Pretty much, all acids are bad.

Is coffee bad for your teeth?

J: What about coffee? Is it a tough thing for your teeth?

D: Hmm… Coffee is interesting, it depends what you put in it. If you put a lot of sugar in it, absolutely. Coffee also stains your teeth. So, you know a lot of people do drink coffee, it’s not the worst thing for you but it’s not the best thing for you. But I think the most significant problem is anything that has acid in it and coffee does not have acids in it. Except if you put your own acid in there for some reason (Laugh). But generally speaking, you know, it’s not that bad. And even things like milk, milk has good properties and bad properties, but milk when it stays in your mouth for a long period of time, there is something that called baby bottle caries. That term is basically come from parents that will feed their kids milk at night and they will go to sleep with the bottle. And that milk, when it just seats in your mouth, it eventually turns into sugar, and the sugar will cause problems. So it’s a combination of sugar and acid, that’s the worst combination.

J: So, it sounds like the carbonated beverages out there, where they have citric acid and a ton of sugar, not good!

D: Right. Exactly. At the end, acid is bad. This causes cavities.

J: OK.

Chocolate… A food that fights cavities!

D: Let’s talk about the good foods now. So, it’s basically the opposite and a lot of people are going to find that very interesting. The American Institute of Preventive Medicine found that the thing that helps to fight against cavities are things that counteract acids. Some examples are nuts, meat, fish, chicken, eggs, plain yoghurt and cheese. And I got, this is the best one yet, you’re not going to believe this, chocolate actually helps fight cavities.

J: Wait a minute… Chocolate? Doesn’t chocolate have sugar in it?

D: OK, let’s get more specific here. It’s not actually, you know, you are not going to buy a Hershey and “OK, this is great Dr. Goldberg said if I eat a lot of Hershey’s, I am going to fight cavities.” It’s not what I am saying. So, I want to make it clear. It’s the ingredient in chocolate which is cocoa.

J: OK.

D: I am going to get a little scientific. Hopefully I don’t lose people here; I am going to explain why it’s that case. So, in cocoa, there is something called tannins and they are naturally carrying polyphenols, OK. Polyphenols are what make wine and many other fruits astringent and make a variety of flowers and autumn leaves colourful. Polyphenols also cause precipitation of proteins. What’s that means is that it prevents bacteria from sticking to teeth, OK. When it comes to chocolate, the main thing you have to be sure of, is that it’s high in cocoa content.

J: OK. So you want a dark chocolate?

D: Yeah. Honestly, it’s the more expensive chocolate that’s going to have the benefits.

J: It’s amazing how much time is going by but we have to take another quick break. One of the things you have talked about were children and the food that they eat, I wanted to talk to you, maybe in the next session of our conversation about kids coming to the dentist. Is it OK?

D: Sure.


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