When people think about food, they usually think about their weight, appearance, or overall health. However, your oral health is dependent on good eating habits as well. Many of the same foods that cause weight gain and poor health also harm your teeth. While regular dental visits and proper oral hygiene are essential for keeping your pearly whites looking their best, don’t overlook the fact that healthy eating plays a part, too. Here are a few tips for healthy teeth:
Foods That Cause Tooth Decay
Sugar – Bacteria feast on sugar. Lower your sugar intake and you will lower the number of bacteria that harm your teeth and gums. Stay away from candies that get stuck between your teeth. Instead, opt for the types of candy that don’t stick to teeth, like a square of chocolate,.for example.
Sugary Drinks – Energy drinks, sports drinks, and especially soda almost always contain loads of sugar. Also, the artificial colors and acids found in most drinks can stain your teeth, and erode precious tooth enamel.
Alcohol – Consumed in moderation, alcohol will not typically harm your teeth and gums. However, most pre-mixed alcoholic drinks use sugar for flavoring and can be just as detrimental to your oral health as soda.
White Bread – Saliva breaks down starch and converts it to sugar as you chew (bread has lots of starch). White bread also takes on a paste-like quality as you chew, and gets into the areas between your teeth that are difficult to get to when brushing.
Processed Foods – Almost everyone consumes some processed foods as part of their diet, whether they realize it or not. Whenever possible, steer clear of heavily processed foods like bacon, hot dogs, frozen dinners, and pre-prepared meals. These foods often contain unhealthy levels of sugar, fat, and sodium. In addition, as heavy processing strips away many of their essential nutrients, processed foods often lack nutritional value.
Fruits – Yes, even some fruits are high enough in sugar and acids to make this list. Grapes, grapefruit, pineapples, lemons, and limes are all acidic enough to wear away enamel.
Foods That Help Fight Tooth Decay
The same diet that keeps you fit, provides energy, and keeps your cholesterol in check will also help you maintain good oral health.
Just as your body requires a balanced mix of water, vitamins, minerals, proteins, and carbohydrates, your teeth need these nutrients, as well.
Water – Drink water throughout the day and with meals. Water moistens your mouth and flushes away plaque and bacteria from your teeth and gums. Plus, water aids digestion and helps your body absorb the nutrients found in the food you eat. Water also provides the hydration that your body requires to stay healthy and feel good. Drinking water throughout the day may also help you keep your weight in check as it provides a feeling of fullness in the stomach.
Fruits – Crisp fruits, like apples or pears, not only help in removing plaque from teeth and gums, they also provide fresher breath. Fruits like blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries that are rich in anthocyanins, help prevent the colonization of pathogens on teeth. Cranberries have been known to reduce bacteria that lead to tooth decay and plaque.
Vegetables – Celery and carrots have lots of beta carotene, a nutrient that helps in the creation of the essential vitamin A. Vegetables like cabbage, kale, and spinach, contain vitamins such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, that play a big part in maintaining strong bones, and healthy teeth.
Whole Wheat or Rye Bread – Whole wheat and rye bread contain less starch and added sugars compared to white bread. Switch to rye or whole wheat bread and you might get a nice surprise on the scale, as well.
So, while routine checkups and proper oral hygiene play a big role in keeping your teeth and gums healthy, don’t forget that good eating habits have plenty to say, as well.
Smiles by Shields
Located in Jacksonville, Fl, the family-owned Smiles by Shields practice specializes in general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, and holistic dentistry. Dr. Tiffany Shields believes that oral wellness contributes to whole-body well-being. Smiles By Shields offers comprehensive dental services in a calm, caring environment.