As National Nutrition Month comes to a close, we would like to discuss how nutrition affects oral health. Pretty much everyone knows that what we eat and drink has a powerful impact on our overall health, but many don’t think much about how it relates to our oral health, as our food and drink just kind of “passes through” our mouths on their way into the body. Most people know that sticky sweets can cause cavities, but other than that, it is not a much-contemplated issue, so we would like to discuss it here.
Here are some other dietary things to consider when protecting your mouth:
- In addition to candy, other sweets like cakes and pies, and snack foods such as chips can also damage teeth because the bacteria that live in the mouth feed on the types of sugars these foods contain and then release acids that can cause tooth decay.
- Acidic and sugary drinks can also be harmful because sipping on them keeps your teeth bathed in the sugars that the bacteria use to produce acids, or are bathed in the acids from the drinks themselves, which can contribute to tooth decay.
- Even some foods that are healthy can have harmful acids, like tomatoes and citrus fruits, so they should be eaten as part of a meal rather than by themselves to cut down on the harmful effects of the acid on teeth.
- Fresh fruit is healthier for your mouth than dried fruit, because dried fruit is sticky and can adhere to teeth, making those sugars and acids remain in the mouth longer.
- Foods and drinks that are high in calcium are good for your teeth because they help build, maintain, and protect tooth enamel. Dairy products, calcium-fortified tofu, leafy greens, and almonds all fall into this category.
- Protein-rich foods are the best source for phosphorous, which is also essential for maintaining enamel. Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs are all good sources for this nutrient.
- Fruits and vegetables provide many benefits to the teeth and mouth: they are high in water and fiber, which help neutralize acid and clean teeth, they stimulate saliva production, which helps to wash away harmful sugars and acids, and they often contain both Vitamin A, which helps build enamel, and Vitamin C, which contributes to healthy gums and speeds up healing time of wounds.
- Finally, the most mouth-friendly beverage is water, particularly if it is fluoridated.
For more information on how diet affects oral health or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Dawn Gayken, DDS today!