Tooth Decay to Go: The Negative Effects of Fast Food on Your Teeth

Posted on: 2 May 2017


Australians purchase 3.3 million fast food meals every day. Given that the population of Australia is approximately 24 million, that might not seem like a lot. However, according to the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) Healthy Diet Score report, Australians only score 59 out of 100 for the quality of their diet. Not only is fast food bad for your waistline and overall health, it is also bad for your teeth.

If you enjoy fast food as many people do, make sure you practice excellent oral hygiene in order to counteract the following effects of some of the most popular fast food items.

French Fries Feed Tooth Decay-Causing Bacteria

Due to the fact that French fries are made from potatoes, they are rich in starch. The bacteria that live in your mouth love a starch feast though they don't eat starch in its original form.

Your saliva, which begins the digestive process, breaks starch molecules down into smaller chunks to aid in the digestive process. These smaller particles are actually forms of sugar and most of them will be turned into glucose by your body. However, bacteria such as streptococcus mutans are then able to easily consume these sugar particles. The acid they secrete after eating those particles then slowly erodes the enamel of your teeth, leading to cavities.

If you eat a portion of French fries in the morning then, your teeth will be exposed to this acidic by-product until you brush your teeth later, in the evening.

Burger Bun Residue Sticks to Your Teeth Leading to Cavities

Like French fries, white bread contains starch, which means it goes through a similar chemical process in your mouth. However, because white bread is prone to sticking to your teeth, this once again leaves your teeth at the mercy of bacteria.

To protect your teeth against cavities when eating French fries and burgers then; ensure that you brush and floss 30 minutes after enjoying your meal. This will allow your saliva to break the food particles down and neutralize any acids that might be present. This is especially important if you consume a soft drink with your meal.  

Soft Drinks Soften Your Tooth Enamel

When you purchase a meal from a fast food restaurant, you also receive a soft drink such as Pepsi or 7-Up. Soda-based soft drinks are acidic in nature; however, and this acidity softens the enamel surface of your teeth until your saliva can neutralize the threat. This is why it is wise to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing and flossing your teeth after a fast food meal. In a softened state, your teeth are more easily damaged so take care not to chew anything especially crunchy, such as the ice in your soft drink, during this time.

Although fast food is harmful to teeth, if you stay mindful of the risks and take the necessary precautions; such as brushing and flossing after meals as well as refraining from chewing ice, your teeth should be okay.