You are careful to keep up with checkups and cleanings, but did you know that what you eat has a tremendous effect on the health of your teeth? Your teeth are an important part of your body – and the health of your teeth is intrinsically connected to the health of your whole being and vice versa.
For example, poor nutrition can weaken your immune system and which makes you more susceptible to additional health problems, including gum disease. Make sure to include a variety of foods from each food group and check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines website, www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines.
Here are a few quick suggestions to help keep your mouth and your body healthy:
- Avoid foods that have the deadly three – sugar, acid, and stickiness. If you do eat foods that are highly acidic, wait at least 30 minutes to brush.
- Chewy, gooey foods stick to your teeth. Because of this, your saliva can’t do its job properly and wash the cavity causing sugars away the way it should.
- Cut down on carbohydrate-rich foods and carbohydrates like bread or pasta can be just as harmful to your teeth as sugar because they also promote acid-causing bacteria. When you do eat carbohydrates, combine them with other foods like cheese to help neutralize acids.
- Add fresh, unprocessed foods to your diet. In other words, if you want a snack between meals, try something like crisp and fresh raw veggies or crunchy fruit.
- Drink tea instead of soda! Even sugar-free diet soda contains acid that can cause tooth erosion, while the compounds in black tea can kill the growth of cavity-causing bacteria.
- Add more Xylitol-based gum and mints to your routine. Chewing Xylitol gum after meals not only freshens your breath, it actually helps prevent the formation of cavities!
- Be sure you are getting your vitamins:
- Vitamin C promotes healthy gums and quick healing of wounds. Make sure you are getting enough by eating more things like peppers, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, and kiwi.
- The calcium in dairy and other foods such as beans protects and rebuilds tooth enamel and protects your jawbone, so add more milk, cheese, or yogurt to your diet. Dairy products also seem to lessen the occurrence of tooth decay and gum disease.
- To ensure that your body is absorbing calcium, don’t forget your vitamin D!
- Foods containing phosphorous, and vitamins A & B can also protect your enamel so add some fish, milk, sweet potatoes, liver, and spinach to your everyday diet.
- Garlic, apples, grapes, shiitake mushrooms, cocoa, and nutmeg are all foods that combat cavity-causing bacteria, bad breath, and gum disease. These foods contain compounds that may prevent cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to teeth.
- Surprisingly, studies show that eating several sweet treats at once is better for your teeth than savoring just a little for hours. Try eating your treats only once a day to limit the time sugar or acids are left on your teeth.
After you eat, don’t forget to brush your teeth – or at least rinse your mouth with clean water to wash away disease causing bacteria.
For more information on how diet and nutrition can affect your smile, please call Dr. Alex or Sophia Masters at our Clinton Township dental office today!