The foods we choose in our diet can affect more than just our weight. It might be a surprise, but what you chew can adversely affect the health of your teeth and your mouth. Making wise choices will save you from disease, damage, or discomfort.
Chewing Is Essential to Your Health
Chewing is an important activity because it starts the digestive process. It’s essential to make sure you are chewing foods properly to get the most out of every meal you consume, and promote better health in your mouth and internally.
What Goes Into Each Chew
It may seem like a simple task, but there’s a lot of work that goes into each chew. Your jaw is responsible for chewing, but it’s all thanks to joints called the temporomandibular joints. Without these joints, you wouldn’t be able to open or close your mouth or move your lower jaw.
In addition to your jaw, chewing is reliant on how much saliva your mouth produces. Saliva is the product of the six salivary glands located in your mouth. Water and other enzymes combine to create saliva, which is responsible for breaking down food in your mouth. Saliva also helps to wash away any leftover food particles after you eat.
Benefits of Proper Chewing
Proper chewing reduces the risk of choking, but it also helps your body in so many other ways. These benefits include:
- Maintaining a healthier weight: The longer it takes for you to chew, the longer it takes to finish your meal. This means you’ll feel fuller faster because it takes your brain up to 20 minutes to be notified that your stomach is in fact full.
- Ability to absorb more nutrients: Chewing thoroughly allows for the most amount of nutrients to be absorbed when you eat. Smaller pieces allow nutrients to transfer from the food to your body, meaning you get the most out of every meal.
- More exposure to saliva: When you properly chew, saliva in your mouth is able to break down your food before it even reaches your digestive tract. Saliva also coats your teeth and protects your teeth’s precious enamel!
- Giving your teeth a much-needed workout: We often forget to include teeth in our workout regimens, but chewing keeps your teeth strong.
Six Things You Shouldn’t Be Chewing
Now that you know the importance of chewing, it’s important you choose the right foods to eat. You should avoid putting any of these things in your mouth due to their damaging effects on your teeth’s health.
Potato chips may seem like the perfect snack, but don’t be fooled. Chips are composed of starches that transform into sugar inside your mouth. This sugar gets trapped in the spaces in between and around your teeth due to the small crumbs left behind. This increase of sugar in your mouth leads to plaque buildup on your teeth. Plaque buildup is only the beginning of dental problems including gum disease, tooth decay, and staining.
Biting your fingernails is a bad habit, just like teeth grinding, and causes stress on your jaw. Not only do you expose yourself to the germs hidden underneath your fingernails, but you’ll damage your teeth. The simple act of biting your nails shifts teeth’s position and flattens the edges of your front teeth. You run the risk of splintering your teeth each time you choose to bite your fingernails.
Hard and Sugary Candies
Candies that are both hard and sugary pose multiple threats to your teeth. The sugar of these candies cause tooth decay and can lead to more serious problems. Chewing these hard candies exposes your teeth to chipping or even tooth damage. You could even cut your mouth if you are not careful.
Choosing to eat hard sugary candies over a long period of time exposes you to the risk of bacteria making a home in your mouth. Bacteria feed off the sugar that builds up and will eat away at your teeth’s enamel. Skip the sugary candies and choose sugarless gum to chew on instead.
Chewing tobacco poses a serious risk to your health, but it especially affects your oral health. Chewing tobacco dries out your mouth over time which can lead to reduced saliva production. This can also cause your gums to recede and, in time, expose your highly-sensitive tooth roots. Dry mouths can also cavities and infections.
You may not realize it, but odd objects end up in our mouths while we are distracted. Chewing on pens or pencils while you are focused may not seem like a big deal, but this exposure harms your teeth. It can potentially cause unwanted movement in your teeth or even crack them. Not only is it physically harmful, but you expose your mouth to all the germs housed on these items.
Chewing on ice is significantly worse on your teeth because of their hard surface and cold temperature. The hard surface makes your teeth more prone to chipping or even fracturing. When you add the cold temperature to this threat of cracking, a lot more damage occurs. The cold temperature causes the enamel of your teeth to expand and thus, creates tiny cracks with every chew. Being aware of the adverse effects of chewing ice should make it easier to resist the urge to chomp on those cubes.
All the things mentioned are harmful to those with natural teeth. It’s especially important to be cautious of what you chew when you have dentures. To protect your oral health and comfort, avoid these foods:
- Hard Foods
- Sticky Foods
- Foods with Kernels or Seeds
- Chewy Red Meats
- Chewing Gum
Tooth Repair & Treatment with Park Avenue Dental
Being aware of the foods that can be damaging to the health of your teeth helps you make better decisions. Your diet and your chewing habits can do a whole lot more harm than good if you don’t know all the facts.
If you experience pain or discomfort due to your past chewing habits, contact Park Avenue Dental today. We offer many different services, including tooth repair and check-ups. Schedule an appointment today!