Your Diet and Your Teeth
We all know to maintain a healthy weight we need to eat a healthy, nutrient-dense diet. However, eating this type of diet is also important for your teeth. We have all heard the saying, ‘you are what you eat’ and that goes for your dental health too. Here is a list of our favorite nutrient-dense foods that provide amazing health benefits — including benefits for your smile, too!
The Connection Between Food and Oral Health
There is a direct correlation between the food and drinks we consume and our oral health. Diet and nutrition can affect the health of the tissues within the mouth, and the health of the mouth affects nutrients consumed. The American Dental Association explains that two of the biggest connections between our diets and oral health include:
- The consumption of sugars has been associated with an increased risk of developing dental caries.
- Frequent consumption of acidic food and beverages is associated with an increased risk of erosive tooth wear.
Foods to Avoid for Dental Health
When you eat and drink certain foods, like sugar-dense and starchy foods, you are giving the bacteria in your mouth things to thrive on which can lead to decay and gum disease by causing plaque. Plaque is a thin, sticky layer of film that covers all the surfaces of the teeth. When the sugar you eat comes in contact with this, it forms an acid which then attacks the teeth. Over time, repeated attacks can break down the hard enamel and cause tooth decay or an inflammatory response, which can breakdown the gums, bone, and supporting structures of the teeth. The University of Rochester’s Medical Center lists the foods that you should avoid to protect your smile:
- Sticky candies and sweets. If you eat sweets, try to eat those that can clear out of the mouth quickly. This means to stay away from candies like lollipops, caramels, and cough drops that have refined sugar.
- Starchy foods that can get stuck in the mouth. Soft breads and potato chips can get trapped between the teeth and cause issues.
- Carbonated soft drinks. These drinks are the leading source of added sugar among kids and teenagers. Not only are they loaded with sugar, but they also have phosphoric and citric acids that wear away tooth enamel.
- Substances that dry out the mouth. These include alcohol and many medicines. When medication is the cause, your dentist can provide a fluoride rinse or gel for brushing your teeth.
Foods Good for Dental Health
Not that we’ve discussed what to avoid, let’s talk about the foods that will actually benefit your oral — and overall — health. Here are the top picks of foods that you should add into your diet for your smile:
- Calcium-rich foods, like low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, or cheese which can strengthen your teeth and bones. Other good sources of calcium are tofu, canned salmon, almonds, and dark green leafy vegetables.
- Phosphorus, which is a mineral found in eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts, and beans which also promote strong teeth.
- Vitamin C, which promotes gum health. You can find vitamin C in citrus fruits and tomatoes (though in moderation since these are also acidic), peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and spinach.
Maintaining Good Dental Health
Though your diet plays a large role in your oral health, so does how you care for and clean your mouth each day. To maintain good oral health, follow these tips:
- Smart snacking – try not to snack too often between meals, as the more often you have a snack the more often you are introducing the teeth to acid.
- Rinse your mouth with water after eating and drinking sugary or acidic items. Don’t brush your teeth within 30 minutes of consuming them, however, as your teeth are already vulnerable and it can make things worse. Rinsing with water can help clean off your teeth and keep them safe until you can brush them.
- Brush your teeth twice a day. Each time you brush your teeth, you should be brushing them for two minutes at a time — once in the morning and once at night.
- Floss once a day to remove food and bacteria trapped between the teeth. Brushing alone can’t reach all of these small spaces between the teeth, but flossing can.
- Use fluoride. Fluoride can help protect your teeth and prevent cavities.
- Drink more water. Like we mentioned above, water can help rinse the mouth and clean the teeth when you can’t brush your teeth.
- See your dentist twice a year — and when issues arise.
Make an Appointment with Dr. Ania
If you’re ready to have a healthy smile, make an appointment to see Dr. Ania to learn more about the foods that are good for your smile and what you can do to properly clean your teeth. Call us now for an appointment: (303)-872-9940.