Oral Health: Food Do's and Don'ts
Good oral health goes well beyond simply brushing your teeth twice a day and visiting the dentist once a year. Having a healthy mouth, teeth, and gums, it is an essential component of your everyday health and wellbeing. Your teeth are critical for properly chewing, which is the first step in the digestion process and your mouth is the first contact your body has with the nutrients it consumes. So, not only does what you put in your mouth affect your general health but the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums as well. The type of food you eat and the beverages you drink may have a direct influence on how healthy your smile is. Here are a few food do’s and don’ts that can have an impact on your dental health.
Dental Health Don’ts
You’ve heard it time and again that sugar is bad for your teeth. The reason sugar is so bad for your teeth is because of the bacteria in your mouth, which converts carbohydrates and sugars into acids. The acids attack the enamel on your teeth, which eventually leads to tooth decay. Sugar, both natural and free sugars are found in a wide range of foods and beverages, but soft drinks are the number one source of harmful free sugars in the United States. So, the first and most important don’t is sugar! Other food that should be added to your “don’t” list includes:
- Empty calorie foods, such as cookies, candy, cakes, muffins and snack foods. Not only do empty calorie foods often contain sugar, but they have no nutritional value and some empty calorie foods, such as chips can damage the surface of teeth and your gums.
- Acidic foods, such as tomatoes and citrus fruits can be good for your health, but it’s important to eat them as part of a meal, not by themselves. Foods with high acidic content can soften and weaken tooth enamel, so it’s important to swish your mouth with water after consuming these types of foods.
- Foods such as bread that is rich in carbohydrates break down into sugar, which may lead to tooth decay.
- Tea and coffee not only stain your teeth but if you add cream and/or sugar, you may be encouraging bacteria to take up residence in your mouth.
- Ice should only be used to chill your beverage! Chewing on ice can cause significant damage to your teeth, mouth and gums.
Dental Health Do’s
One of the most beneficial things you can do for good oral health is consuming a variety of saliva promoting foods. Saliva is your mouth’s best friend because it helps protect your teeth against decay and erosion by removing food particles and it contains minerals that help to neutralize acids. Foods that promote saliva include:
- Cheese, which is also rich in calcium, so it helps in the re-calcification of teeth and protects against the loss of calcium
- Cow’s milk, which contains a variety teeth goodness, including calcium, casein and phosphorous
- Fresh fruits and vegetables, which are loaded with vitamins and minerals that will help keep your teeth and gums strong and healthy. Also, chewing these foods helps to stimulate saliva production
- Plant foods, such as leafy greens, not only require chewing, which stimulates saliva, but they are fibrous as well
- Water will help keep you hydrated, which is essential for saliva production and it helps wash away food particles
As you can see, brushing, flossing and regular visits to your dentist are only part of a healthy oral hygiene routine. Eating a well-balanced diet is essential for giving your body the nutrients it needs for good health and wellness, but it’s also critical for the health of your teeth, mouth and gums.
For more information about nutrition and oral hygiene, contact Premier Dental Care to schedule an appointment for a consultation.