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How sodium affects your teeth

Whether your weakness is chips, pretzels or something else entirely, everyone loves a good savoury snack. Well, maybe not your teeth. Eating an excess of salty foods can lead to lasting damage on your oral health, including tooth decay. However, sodium's impact on your teeth isn't all bad. In the right format, sodium can help whiten teeth and ease tooth pain.

Confused? Our trusty guide can help you to separate the good sodium from the bad.

The impact of snacks

It's no secret that salty foods are bad for your heart health, but what about your teeth? In general, acidic food, including most foods that are higher in sodium, can have a negative impact on your teeth, and if left unchecked lead to decay.

In addition to recommending regulating your dietary sodium intake, Better Health Victoria noted that foods with excess citric acid and phosphoric acid should be eaten only in moderation. This covers many sugary foods. Some of the worst offenders include soft drinks, sports drinks, most alcoholic beverages, candies and citrus fruits.

Overall, the Australian Dental Association recommends limiting excessive snacking in between meals, whether you indulgence of choice is high in sodium or not. Longer breaks between eating gives the teeth time to recover exposure to acids and neutralise potential tooth decay. (The mouth does this naturally with saliva.)  The ADA also recommends drinking water regularly throughout the day. In addition to being great for teeth on its own, tap water contains fluoride, a mineral that supports oral health and prevents tooth decay.

One of the key, easy to spot symptoms of dental decay to look out for include excess sensitivity to food temperature. This is an indicator that the tooth root has become exposed. Other symptoms of tooth decay include an irregular smooth, shiny surface on the tooth, or the appearance of yellow depressions at the bottom of the tooth. Treatment for these issues can range from fillings to a full root canal.

Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is an effective natural tooth whitener.Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is an effective natural tooth whitener.

Baking soda and your teeth

While acidic, dietary salt does nothing but damage to your teeth, not all sodium is bad. Baking soda, the powder form of sodium bicarbonate, has many uses. While typically thought of in connection with household cleaning, this powerful compound can also be an essential teeth cleaning tool in the right package. Baking soda is a fantastic tooth whitener and can help prevent bad breath. If combined with water, it releases free radicals that make teeth look bright and healthy. Sodium bicarbonate also helps to fight gum disease and ulcers.

Sodium bicarbonate does have its shortcomings, however. Excessive use can damage the gums and enamel, leading to the same kind of tooth decay as other forms of sodium. Ultimately, the abrasive qualities make baking soda so great for tooth whitening can lead to damage if used day in and day out. Sodium bicarbonate is also less effective at fighting cavities than traditional toothpaste because it has a lower amount of fluoride and can't kill plaque on its own. It's probably best to stick with your typical, dentist-approved toothpaste for your regular cleanings.

Salt water rinses

One final use of salt is in a salt water mouth rinse. The simple combination of warm water and a small amount of salt can help to slow the build up of dental bacteria by decreasing the pH level in your mouth. Salt water rinses can also to heal mouth sores and ease other areas of pain. As a result of these benefits, the treatment is commonly recommended as a part of the recovery process from oral surgery. (There's a reason people have been using salt as an anti-infective since at least the days of ancient Egypt!)

With so much advice out there on the best diet, cleaners and other products, figuring out what's actually right can be challenging. Luckily City Dentists is here to help! City Dentists takes the convenience of its patients to heart, with its central location by the Wellington train station, professional staff and modern offices.

If you want to get your teeth looking better than ever, City Dentists can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment

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