You may not realize it, but what you eat and drink every day has a big impact on your teeth, gums, and overall oral health. If you want to keep your smile healthy and avoid extra trips to your dentist, keep these ideas in mind when choosing your next snack or meal.
It All Works Together
According to the American Dental Association, “A bidirectional relationship exists between oral health and diet and nutrition. Diet and nutrition affect the health of the tissues in the mouth; and the health of the mouth affects nutrients consumed”. This means that what you eat affects the health of your mouth, and the health of your mouth affects the health of your body. So it’s important to eat well and maintain good oral hygiene!
Cavities arise when the plaque in your mouth produces acidic by-products as the result of fermentation and carbohydrates. Sugar and starches are both carbohydrates, and you should be on the lookout for sugar-related carbs. These include sucrose, glucose, and fructose.
Sucrose is the most likely to cause cavities. Experts recommend that your total sugar intake each day be less than 10% of your total energy intake, but less than 5% is even better.
It’s also important to keep an eye on how often you consume these sugars. If you are sipping a soft drink all day, you’re more likely to develop cavities. This is because it takes about 30 minutes for the pH levels to drop after consuming sugar. If you consume more sugar in that 30-minute period, you’re making a vulnerable space even more vulnerable.
One way to help prevent cavities is to make sure your body is getting enough Vitamin D. This regulates calcium and influences phosphate metabolism. Whether you spend 10 minutes outdoors each day or take a supplement, Vitamin D is a good way to help boost your oral health.
Highly acidic foods that do not have a buffer, like calcium, can progressively and irreversibly erode your teeth. Soft drinks, fruit juices, and acidic snacks can all contribute to the erosion of teeth. However, some products like milk and yogurt that are also high in acid won’t have as drastic of an effect, thanks to their high calcium content, which works to counteract the acidity.
Those with frequent heartburn, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, as well as those who take heartburn medication, frequently are also at a higher risk for dental erosion due to the amount of stomach acid that will come in contact with the teeth and other oral tissues.
Most commonly found in dairy products, calcium is a vital nutrient for growing and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. Cheese, milk, and yogurt are all good sources of calcium. Some plant-based products are fortified with calcium to give you the same nutritional benefits as full-dairy products but without the actual dairy. However, it’s not recommended to keep dairy products away from those under 12 months of age, nor to exclusively consume plant-based or other non-dairy products, no matter what your age!
It’s Never Too Late for a Healthy Smile!
Not everyone has access to quality food and dental care their entire lives. As such, many adults have dental issues. There are a variety of dentistry options that can help you achieve prime oral health. For missing or badly damaged teeth that need removal, dental implants are a great alternative. They are securely placed in your jaw and look just like your natural teeth! Invisalign is also an option for those who didn’t have the opportunity for braces as a teen, or need some readjusting as an adult.
If this sounds like you, or if you have other dental concerns to discuss, please contact Dr. Tiffany Shields of Jacksonville, Florida’s, Smiles by Shields Dentistry by calling 904-731-0777 today!