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What are the best foods and drinks for our teeth?

What are the best foods and drinks for our teeth?

The human body is inhabited by millions of microbes that can be found on your skin, eyes, nose and mouth. These bacteria are known as microbiota and are important in keeping us safe. They provide a layer of protection against harmful bacteria and aid in digestion. It is important to know that although microbiota are there to protect us, things can change if we change the environment they live in. This is most important for the bacteria that commonly live in our mouths.

Dental plaque is a very thin layer of bacteria, among other things that adhere to our teeth, and is formed constantly. When we eat, we are not only feeding ourselves but are also feeding the bacteria that live in our mouths. The bacteria ingest the starchy foods or sugars found in our food and release acids as a by-product. Overtime, if left to their own accord and without proper oral hygiene, these bacteria can cause tooth decay or gum disease.

It all starts with what we eat. Foods that are high in sugar or starch are generally going to result in more acid by-products from the bacteria that live in plaque. Studies have assessed the pH changes in our mouths during and after eating over the course of a day. The results showed that the bacteria in dental plaque will start to metabolise your sugars and starch within 20 minutes of eating, leaving a more acidic environment in the mouth. Long term exposure to acid can lead to the destruction of your hard enamel causing tooth decay and even gum inflammation.

The acid levels in our mouths after consuming foods that are high in sugars can reach a maximum within only 20 minutes. Your saliva serves as a protective mechanism in the mouth to help neutralise the acid, this usually takes about 30 to 60 minutes for this to occur. It is important to note that everyone is different, and this may not happen as quickly for some. Most commonly, individuals taking medications tend to have a lower saliva flow, hence it may take longer for their mouths to be restored to a neutral ‘normal’ value.

There are many foods that invite this acidic process to cause tooth decay, while there are others that help prevent plaque build-up. We’ve compiled a list of foods that we recommend, and foods that should only be consumed as a special treat!

The good foods:

Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are great as they are natural teeth cleaners. This is because they are crunchy and contain lots of water to help remove the plaque on your teeth. They also contain good minerals and vitamins that are great for your teeth and your gums. Other crunchy vegetables such as celery and carrots are also good because their texture allows for the removal of plaque on your teeth – a natural toothbrush for your mouth! Couple this with the stimulation of saliva when chewing, the plaque and bacteria are more readily washed away – your very own natural mouthwash!

Cheese, milk, low sugar yogurt, and other dairy products

Our teeth are made up of a variety of minerals that keep them strong and healthy. Calcium and phosphate minerals are found in our teeth and bones and are responsible for strengthening them. These minerals are also found in many dairy products. When we eat and drink, the drop in pH level in our mouths can cause acid-attacks onto our teeth and often these good minerals are lost. By eating plenty of dairy products, we are able to replace some of the lost minerals.


Peanuts contain high amounts of vitamin D, calcium and phosphates. Nuts are packed full of vitamins and minerals that are great for both the teeth and your body. They also stimulate saliva flow which helps to wash away harmful bacteria.

Tea and Coffee

Polyphenols, antioxidant rich nutrients that are found naturally in tea. Polyphenols are effective against fighting off harmful bacteria and also reducing inflammation in our gums. By killing off the harmful bacteria in our mouth, they are unable to release acid or cause irritation to the gums that result in inflammation.

Meats and fatty fish

Chewing meats stimulate saliva flow, and an increased saliva flow in our mouth is a good thing. More saliva in our mouths means the harmful bacteria in our mouths are washed away.

Salmon, like dairy products mentioned above, contain loads of phosphate which are important for our enamel.


It goes without saying that we should aim to consume 2 litres of water a day. Water is important for hydration of the body but great for cleansing our mouth. It acts to wash away any harmful bacteria but is important to maintaining our pH. After a sugary meal, the mouth’s pH starts to decrease, becoming more acidic. By consuming water, we can help to neutralise this acid and restore it to a more acceptable level. Thus, reducing the time our teeth are in contact with acid which can cause tooth decay.

The added benefit of water is the added fluoride that it contains. Fluoride is shown to aid in the reduction of tooth decay by remineralising and strengthening the tooth.

Sugarfree chewing gum

We’ve been talking a lot about chewing and increased saliva and how it helps to wash away the harmful bacteria. Your salivary glands will start to secrete saliva as soon as you start to chew. This helps to aid in lubricating the mouth and moistening your food to allow you to swallow. The act of chewing promotes saliva production, and so having sugar free chewing gum which stimulates saliva flow can be very beneficial after a meal. As long as it doesn’t contain any sugar of course!

Sugarfree chewing gum is great for those that are suffering from low saliva flow or dry mouth syndrome.

It’s not easy to maintain a healthy diet, so it is always important to try and be balanced with what we consume. Of course, it is vital that we know which foods we should stay away from where possible. Everything in moderation is great, but when we give in to our temptations, our teeth may suffer as a result.The sometimes foods:

Chocolate and lollies

Sweet treats such as chocolates and lollies tend to be very sticky and love to live in the nooks and crannies between our teeth or in the grooves. Unfortunately, they can be quite difficult to remove and can often overstay their welcome. Sweets are also are high in sugar and are easily ingested by the harmful bacteria in your mouth, increasing your risk of tooth decay!

It is important to note, when we do have a small indulgence, it’s best to go for something that won’t be too sticky and clear your mouth as quickly as possible.

Starchy foods

Bread, rice, pasta, oats and potatoes are high in carbohydrates. The bacteria in your mouth love to feed on these carbohydrates and cause damage to your teeth through their acidic by-products.

Starchy foods can get stuck in between the crevices of your teeth. It’s best to try and rinse your mouth out with water shortly after a meal to help flush out any food debris that is left behind.

Where possible, try to aim for whole wheat breads which contain less sugars.

Soft drink

It goes without saying that carbonated drinks don’t play nicely with your teeth. Carbonated drinks contain added sugar along with acids that wear your tooth enamel away.

Try to drink through a straw when consuming soft drinks, this reduces the contact time on the teeth and reduces your risk of tooth decay. Furthermore, try not to swish your favourite soft drink in your mouth.

Some people will sip on drinks throughout the day, this is not recommended because the intake of sugar and acid into the mouth is more damaging to the teeth than consuming your drink in one sitting. This is because your mouth stays more acidic for longer as you are replenishing the sugar and acid with each sip.


Did you know that alcohol causes dehydration? A dehydrated mouth lacks saliva, which is important in flushing away food debris stuck on our teeth. Saliva is also important for repairing our enamel and thus preventing tooth decay.

Wine is tannin rich which is responsible for that red-purple stain on our teeth. It’s important to try and rinse this off with water after a glass of wine. Try not to run to the bathroom and start brushing your teeth. The acid present on your teeth after consuming food/drinks lasts for up to 30mins, the effect of brushing your teeth immediately can further damage and wear away your much needed enamel. A glass of water or two is more than enough to help your teeth

At True Smile Dental Marrickville, we can identify early signs of acid wear on your teeth upon examination. Regular x-rays help us to detect early signs of tooth decay in-between your teeth. Book a check up today by giving our friendly team a call on (02) 7228 7272 or visit us at 235 Marrickville Road, Marrickville NSW 2204.

Everyday Habits that can stain your teeth


Our teeth are exposed to so many elements everyday, it’s no wonder it can feel like they become dull and discoloured with time. Stains or discolouration on our teeth come in two different forms: intrinsic staining and extrinsic staining. It is important to understand which type of staining or discolouration your teeth have so that it can be best managed.

Intrinsic stains are those that are found internally and are often caused through developmental factors, a history of trauma or antibiotic use. It is always best to speak to your dental professional about the ways to improve the aesthetics of any intrinsic staining if this is the case.

Extrinsic staining can be caused by external factors as a result of our daily habits.

Here are some habits that can cause extrinsic stains to your teeth and some tips to reduce the amount of staining that can develop:

Coffee/tea/wine and other dark coloured beverages

Coffee – the elixir of life! I know I can’t function without my cup of coffee in the morning, but as comforting as they are, beverages such as coffee, tea and wines contain tannins which can cause their colour compounds to stick to your teeth. Adding milk to your daily cup of coffee or choosing a coffee with less caffeine can help to reduce the amount of staining.

Tea – What’s crazy is that tea is more likely to stain your teeth than coffee. This is because there is a higher tannin content found in black and green tea. Try drinking a cup of water or rinsing in between your cups of tea to reduce the amount of tannins left in your mouth.

Wine – acidic beverages such as red wine can lead to the surface of our enamel becoming etched. This causes the dark red particles found in wine to readily stick to the tooth surface. Avid wine drinkers, also tend to enjoy the taste of wine by holding it in their mouth to savour the flavours however this can lead to increased exposure time resulting in more staining and an increased risk for dental erosion. Therefore, it is important to not hold beverages such as wine in our mouth for too long and to rinse after where possible.

Of course, the best way to reduce staining from these types of beverages is drink through a straw or to reduce consumption altogether. If this is not possible, it may be best to schedule frequent professional cleaning appointments with your dental professional to keep your pearly whites in tip-top shape. The team at True Smiles Dental can definitely help you with this.

Coloured foods

Dark coloured foods such as berries (blueberries, raspberries, mulberries), beetroot or rich sauces such as curries or soy sauce can also result in increased discolouration or staining. Our rule of thumb is if it can stain your clothes, most likely it can also stain your teeth. Therefore, it is important to try and reduce contact time where possible and not hold dark coloured foods or beverages in the mouth for longer than necessary.

Eating crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples and carrots can also help provide a ‘natural scrubbing’ motion which can act as a natural stain remover. Crunchy foods promote increased saliva production which in turn allows for dilution of the mouth. Not only does this reduce staining, it allows helps to reduce your risk of decay.


Smoking is the second most common reason why we may develop stains on our teeth, whether the tobacco is being smoked or chewed. Additionally, smoking has also been found to be linked with oral cancers and advanced gum disease. Staining cause from smoking is generally more difficult (but not impossible!) to remove, so if there weren’t enough reasons already to quit smoking, perhaps maintaining your pearly whites could be one of them.

Over-exposure to Chlorine

Something that is not well known is that swimming is a hobby that can result in dental staining. That’s right! Studies have found that constant exposure to chlorine can result in a residue adhering to your teeth, causing them to pick up more stains. Swimming pools are often treated with an antimicrobial agent such as chlorine to help kill bacteria and keep the water clean. This gives the pool water a higher pH level than the saliva in your mouth and can cause the salivary proteins to break down quicker than usual, resulting in higher levels of build-up known as ‘calculus’ which is more prone to picking up stains.
Dental stains and enamel erosion from constant exposure to chlorine can often be found in individuals who swim regularly in chlorinated pools. Luckily, staining that comes from swimming in chlorinated pools can be removed through professional dental cleans.

Not drinking enough water

Drinking lots of water every day is important not just for hydrating our body but also our mouths. We recommend drinking at least 2 litres of water per day to help with hydrating our bodies and mouths!

Drinking lots of water has the ability to not only wash away all the tannins and debris in our mouth after a meal or beverage, but also helps to increase salivary flow. Saliva also has wonderful anti-microbial properties which help to prevent tooth decay.

Not brushing and flossing daily

Dental plaque and biofilm tend to pick up more colour and stains from the food and beverages we consume. It goes without saying that good oral hygiene through brushing and flossing can minimise the amount of plaque and bacteria left on our teeth. But did you know that the when you should brush plays an important role too? For example, if you know you will be having a cheeky glass of wine at dinner, brushing about 30 minutes before dinner can help to remove the sticky plaque on your teeth so that the dark wine pigments are not able to stick as readily. Similarly, it is important to not brush until at least 30 minutes after drinking wine as the acid from the wine can lead to a softening of your enamel resulting in dental erosion.

Switching to an electric toothbrush can also help to effectively remove more plaque and bacteria when brushing. Need to know which electric toothbrush is right for you? Speak to one of our dental professionals at True Smiles Dental today.

Using oral products with Chlorhexidine

Chlorhexidine can be found in some mouthwashes and is best known for having anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Chlorhexidine mouth rinses can be very helpful under the guidance of a dental professional to help treat acute dental infections but should only be used for short periods of time. Prolonged use of chlorhexidine mouth rinses can result in a brown residue or stain adhering to the teeth. Always consult your dental professional regarding the use of chlorhexidine mouth rinses.

Avoiding dental visits

Over a period of time, plaque and bacteria adhere to your teeth, even if we are diligent with our brushing and flossing. This build up can attract more stains and tends to make our teeth appear more yellow or brown. Thus, it is important to visit your dentist or hygienist for a professional clean routinely. Speak to the team at True Smiles Dental about booking in for your next check-up and clean.

At True Smiles Dental, we know it’s hard to give up on that much needed coffee or glass of wine. That is why we have invested in making the process of stain removal as pain-free and seamless as possible! Our state-of-the-art EMS airflow machine allows for such a feat to be achieved! The combination of air pressure and micro particles are super effective against stains. As a result, the much-dreaded instruments like the ultrasonic scaler (the one that sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard) aren’t needed for stain removal. The experience becomes much more pleasant and far more comfortable. Did we mention that it uses warm water also? Therefore, increasing your comfort and reducing any cold-water sensitivity when you come in for your clean.

Other alternatives to brighten your smile?

The use of ‘whitening’ toothpaste can also aid in removing extrinsic stains. This is because whitening toothpaste often contain abrasive particles which can help to ‘scrub’ off the stains. As whitening toothpaste is often considered more abrasive, it should be used with caution and for only short periods of time. Whitening toothpaste commonly result in increased tooth sensitivity which may go unnoticed for quite some time.

A regular polish and clean will remove surface staining, but a professional whitening treatment may help to bring your smile to a whole new level.
The team at True Smiles Dental are proud to be offering the Phillips ZOOM in-chair whitening system which can achieve up to 8 shades whiter in one 45-60 minute session.

To find out if professional whitening is suitable for you, contact our practice to keep your smile stain-free, bright and white.

The team at True Smiles Dental are always happy to help with any questions you may have in regards to staining, or teeth whitening. Call us now on (02) 7228 7272 or visit to book online!


Your child’s first dental visit – When is the right time and how to prepare


There are many milestones in a child’s life, particularly in the early stages. The first time they can crawl or walk, their first laugh or word, their first tooth or what about the first time they lose a tooth?

What happens when that first tooth comes through? With this first tooth (and the many, many more teeth that follow) comes the responsibility for you and your child to look after it both at home and with the help of a dental professional.

The Australian Dental Association have outlined that children’s tooth decay is the most common chronic disease and that it is also responsible for the most hospital admissions for any preventable disease, in children aged 5-9 years old. Yes! That’s right, preventable.

The development of good oral health habits and healthy eating practices during childhood is fundamental to the prevention of common oral diseases that can affect quality of life.

Without being too dramatic – poor oral health can lead to disturbances in eating, sleeping, socialising and overall growth and development.

When should my child visit the dentist?

One of the many questions that we get asked everyday whilst working with parents and children is “when is the right time or age for my child to see the dentist?” and the answer is – by the time they get their first tooth or at 12 months (whichever comes first!). We understand that for some people this may seem way too early – but there are so many great reasons why we think children should visit a dentist at 12 months old.

Here are 5 awesome ones!

1. Early experiences help form great long-term habits

By introducing the concept of what to expect in a dental appointment early, any pre-conceived ideas about the dentist can be addressed to ensure a positive dental experience from a young age. This helps to build a healthy relationship between your child and the dental setting.

For children that have not been to a dental clinic, and especially those that have misconceived beliefs or frightening experiences at the dentist, introducing them to a new concept and understanding of the dental setting in a safe and nurturing environment allows them to use their critical thinking and form positive connections of belonging with the people around them and its setting. They can become familiar with the surgery, the bright lights, the reclining dental chair and most of all, familiarise themselves with our amazing dental team.

2. Prevention

Decay or early childhood caries affects approximately 40% of children under the age of 6. Decay is a multi-factorial disease meaning it is a result of multiple factors. It is important to identify which factors may put your child at risk of dental decay and understand ways to prevent them. An appointment at 12 months allows our team to identify these risk factors and recommend any needed strategies early on to help minimise these risks.

3. Avoiding pain and the need for emergency visits

We don’t want your child’s first dental visit to be an emergency appointment (if it is, that’s ok!) however pain from decayed teeth or a knock to the tooth during weekend sports or those unforeseen falls is unfortunately very common and happens all too often. Having a familiar place to call upon when this happens always makes the unpleasant experience of pain or trauma an easier one when your child needs to visit the dentist. Your child is more likely to feel safe with someone they’ve seen before.

4. Toothbrushing habits

As soon as that first little tooth pops up, it is important to start cleaning it twice daily. Now, as easy as this sounds – some children don’t appreciate having things prodding around in their mouth. Seeing a dental professional can help to alleviate some of the minor stresses that may come from toothbrushing. If the toothbrush doesn’t work for your little one, then wiping the tooth with a a soft cloth works just as well.

5. A review of their developing dentition

Are their teeth coming through in the right order? An important point to remember is that we are usually more concerned about the sequence of eruption of teeth rather than timing. Similarly, to how some kids grow faster than others, the teeth are no different, they may just take a little longer to come through.

If your child is over 12 months and still has not had their first trip the dentist, fear not as we are happy to see your child at any age because as the saying goes ‘Better late than never’.

What to expect at your child’s first dental visit?

Depending on their age, your child’s first dental visit at True Smiles Dental will primarily be to help with acclimatising to the dental environment to ensure they are as comfortable as possible. Each child’s first appointment can be different and we strive to tailor the appointment based off how your child responds to the new experience.

After taking a full medical history for your child, your dental professional may want to discuss topics such as:
– Brushing habits and technique along with ways to help motivate brushing
– Toothbrushes and toothpastes recommended for your child
– A check of the gums to make sure they are healthy
– Decay risk and ways to prevent it
– Dental habits including use of a dummy or thumb sucking
– Sleep habits: does your child grind, snore or breathe through their mouth during sleep?
– Nutritional advice to ensure healthy teeth
– Their developing bite and what to expect with their dental development

If your child is comfortable, we may also include a full mouth polishing/cleaning as well to aid in familiarisation of dental instruments.

How to prepare your child for their first dental visit

Reading books about going to the dentist can be helpful or even ‘playing’ dentist at home. You can prepare your child by letting them know that the dentist is there to help look after their teeth and count how many there are. It is not necessary to go into too much detail as the team at True Smiles Dental are well-trained to be able to speak with children in a calming and friendly nature. We will always explain who we are and what we are trying to do at the same level that your child can relate to and understand.

There are some great resources out there which can help familiarise your child with the world of dentistry. Here are a few resources that we recommend:

– We’re going to the dentist: Going for a Check up by Marion Cocklico
– Peppa Pig: Dentist Trip
– Max goes to the Dentist by Adria Klein
– ‘’Toothsavers brushing game’’ app (available on iOS and android)

Playing dentist at home can also help prepare your child for their first visit. Parents can have young children lay in their laps and use a toothbrush to count their teeth. This can help children familiarise themselves with what to expect during their visit.

What not to do before your child’s dental visit

We understand that there may be some level of anxiety for parents when bringing their child in for their first dental visit. Sometimes it’s hard to predict how something new can unfold – no matter how hard we prepare for something. Rest assured – your child is in the best hands with the experienced team at True Smiles Dental.

It’s important to maintain a positive attitude and vibe so that your child understands that visiting the dentist is not a scary feat.

Here are a few tips, words and lines to avoid if possible:

1. Telling your child ‘’if you don’t brush your teeth the dentist will have to use the drill or pull them all out’’ is unlikely to change long term daily habits and will most likely reinforce more retaliation and anxiety.

2. Discussing any personal bad experiences with your child is also not recommended as this can also further increase anxiety. Words such as ‘’needles’’, ‘’drill’’, ‘’pull’’ are not pleasant words for anyone whether we are old or young

3. Saying things like ‘’it won’t hurt’’ or ‘’the dentist won’t hurt you’’. Again, words like ‘hurt’ are associated with pain and fear.

4. Telling your child, they are ‘brave’. Bravery can occasionally be associated with doing something uncomfortable or scary.

5. Don’t be anxious yourself! Children often have very strong intuitions and senses about their surrounding environment. Stress is contagious so we don’t want to transpire that into your child before their first appointment.

At True Smiles Dental, we believe that forming a good experience at the dentist early on is important and a lifetime investment in their overall health. Our aim is to always make sure your little one has the best positive experience at the dentist. Who said visiting the dentist can’t be fun? Start your child off in the best way possible and get them onto a lifetime of good dental habits – book with us now on (02) 7228 7272 or visit to book online!