We know you love that super spicy tomato-based pasta and that creamy cheesecake with chocolate pieces and caramel drizzle. Or a burrito doused in sauces and sour cream. Or that make-it-yourself yogurt topped with gummy candies, frosted flakes, brownie pieces, and a cherry on top … if that’s your thing.
You can’t avoid acidic foods, and we wouldn’t dream of advising you to cut them out of your diet completely if you don’t have to for other health reasons. You can, however, counteract the effects on your oral health. Many drinks and foods help neutralize acids in your mouth, so even when brushing your teeth is not feasible, you can protect your teeth and gums.
7 Items that Help Neutralize Acids in Your Mouth after Eating or Drinking
Most foods have some amount of acid in them, so it’s virtually impossible to enjoy your life without consuming it. In fact, many acidic foods, such as oranges, are actually good for your overall health. The key is to increase saliva production, as saliva breaks down acids and helps keep your mouth clean and moisturized.
Following are some of the foods and drinks that you may wish to have after lunch or dinner to help neutralize acids in your mouth.
1. A Cube of Cheese
Cheese isn’t completely acid-free, but the calcium and phosphates may help break down some of the acids already in your mouth. Calcium in itself helps to keep your teeth and bones stronger, so that’s a second benefit.
2. A Carrot, a Stick of Celery, a Piece of Broccoli, or a Leaf of Lettuce
Because they separate into little pieces as you’re chewing, all of these items act as exfoliators to clean the surfaces of your teeth. They also require plenty of chewing, stimulating saliva production.
3. Sugar-Free Gum
Chewing sugar-free gum stimulates saliva production, freshens your breath, and can help clean your teeth. Avoid gum that is spicy or sugary.
4. A Glass of Water
Unlike some of the other foods or drinks that help neutralize acids in your mouth, water is basically neutral on the pH scale. It may have a trace of acid, but it’s really insignificant when you look at the big picture. Drinking water after and during your meal can clean your mouth overall by washing away any residue before it stays in your mouth.
5. A Cup of Yogurt
Instead of a sugary dessert, consider a cup of yogurt to top off your meal. Plain yogurt is low in acids, and it contains calcium needed for strong teeth and bones.
Before buying yogurt, read the ingredients to make sure it doesn’t have a lot of added sugar. You should also avoid yogurt with berries because many berries are high in acid.
6. A Glass of Milk
Choose milk as your beverage with your meal or have a glass afterward. Like cheese and yogurt, the calcium helps strengthen teeth.
(By the way, if you also suffer from acid reflux, milk can help neutralize the acids in your stomach as well as in your mouth. Just make sure it’s low-fat or skim milk because fats can worsen the effects of acid reflux. Studies show a correlation between the acids in your stomach and those in your mouth, so it’s important to minimize acid intake to control both issues.)
7. Soy Beans
Pop open a pod of edamame. Soy in general is relatively neutral on the pH scale, so it can help clean your mouth while not being overly filling. Just don’t have too many because the fats can negate the purpose, as mentioned above.
Wait a Half Hour Before Diving In
There’s no substitute for brushing and flossing, but we want to remind you about one factor that many people do not realize: Do not brush your teeth immediately after eating, especially if the foods were spicy, highly acidic, or sugary.
Because these particles remain in your mouth briefly after you eat, brushing right away would be a little like brushing with a spicy or sugary toothpaste. Wait a half hour before brushing, or at least make sure you rinse your mouth out thoroughly with water prior to using the toothbrush.
Some studies show that it is possible to over-brush. For that reason, it’s a smart idea to complement toothbrushing by taking advantage of drinks and foods that neutralize acids in your mouth in order to enhance oral health care.
For more information about everyday oral hygiene, contact us at Fisher Pointe Dental or make an appointment with one of our dental hygienists.