What did you order the last time you went out for dinner at a restaurant? How healthy was it? We have all read and heard appraisals about how great tasting but unhealthy the food is from a restaurant. But have you read and heard how does a restaurant meal rate from a dental perspective? Let’s have a look at a typical restaurant meal in regards to the impact on your teeth.
When I go out to a family restaurant, my typical meal is usually steak, chicken or fish with a salad or vegetables on the side as well a serving of potato, most often than not in the form of chips. The main ingredients of the meal aren’t a major issue for your teeth unless the food is so tough or incorporates small, hidden bones that you’re likely to fatigue your jaw, hurt your gums or break a tooth. The real dangers to your teeth are the sauces and dressings that are typically made of a large quantity of sugar or extremely acidic or worse, a bit of both. Staple condiments such as tomato sauce and barbeque sauce are full of sugar, while supposedly heathier dressings like vinegarettes are highly acidic. Tooth decay causing bacteria thrive in an acidic environment and love breaking down sugar to damage teeth with their acidic byproducts. Acid from food also directly erodes tooth structure.
This is not to say that you cannot enjoy a nice restaurant meal. Diluting the sugar and acid attack by drinking plenty of water will help neutralise their effect. As well, excellent brushing and flossing after the meal usually gets rid of the sugar and acid before any major damage occurs. Just remember to wait 30 minutes after your meal before you do this to avoid damaging the superficial surfaces of your teeth that may have been softened by the acid.