Nutrition and oral health

Nutrition and Your Oral Health

Nutrition and your oral health go hand in hand. Not only does a diet full of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients help keep your teeth, mouth, and gums healthy, but certain foods can actually help clean your teeth while you’re consuming them. 

To better understand the connection between nutrition and oral health, we’ll look at:

  • How nutrition affects your oral health
  • Foods to eat for better oral health
  • Foods to avoid for better oral health

There are a lot of variables that can go into keeping your mouth healthy by eating the right foods. Keep reading to learn the basics of how nutrition affects your oral health and how to keep your mouth healthy for years to come.

How Nutrition Affects Your Oral Health

The nutrition you get from your diet is one of the biggest factors when it comes to your oral health. This is because nutrition can actually influence how certain oral issues develop by either through prevention or making them worse. To ensure that you’re getting the right nutrition, you need to be eating the right diet while avoiding anything that may be harmful to your oral health.

You may think of diet and nutrition as the same thing. This is common, but not entirely correct. It’s possible to be eating “healthy” but still not eat foods that boost your dental health. Key factors that doctors consider are:

  • Age
  • Vitamins
  • Micronutrients
  • Macronutrients
  • PH properties
  • Eating behaviors
  • Medical conditions
  • Socioeconomic status

This list may seem like a lot, but fortunately, you don’t need a DDS or a Ph.D. to get the most nutrition out of your diet! Instead, you can focus on eating more of the right foods while avoiding the bad ones or at least consuming them sparingly.

Doing so will not only help you get the right nutrients from your food. The right foods can also help wash and scrub your mouth clean before, during, after, and in between meals. What’s more, you’ll want to start building these habits with your kids to help guarantee that they have a lifetime of good oral health.

Foods to Eat for Better Oral Health

There are plenty of healthy foods you can consume to keep your teeth strong and healthy. Many of them are staples of a healthy diet and won’t require any special trips to the store. Make sure you have these foods on hand to provide a healthy smile for everyone in your home.

Water

One of the best things you can do for your teeth is to drink more water. You probably already knew that you need to be drinking plenty of water to maintain your overall health, but did you know that water also helps keep your mouth healthy? It does this by:

  • Washing away substances that can harm your teeth
  • Preventing dry mouth

Think of water as your new favorite mouthwash. It washes away bacteria that can harm your teeth as well as prevents dry mouth, which can contribute to tooth decay. Water pulls double-duty by both washing your teeth as well as helping produce more saliva for extra protection. Try to drink fluoridated water whenever you can to help strengthen your teeth.

Calcium

Next, you want to be getting plenty of calcium in your diet. You can find this important mineral in:

  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Calcium-fortified tofu
  • Leafy green veggies
  • Almonds

Keeping a variety of foods on-hand is the best way to make certain that you’re getting the right nutrients to support your oral health.

Protein

Another important macronutrient is protein. High-protein foods contain phosphorus which is known to strengthen your teeth, jaw, and gums. As an added bonus, phosphorus also helps rebuild tooth enamel!

To get the most out of your protein, eat plenty of:

  • Eggs
  • Poultry
  • Meat
  • Fish

Protein is also important for building muscle and maintaining a healthy weight. Add protein to your meals as well as snacks to make sure you’re getting enough to help sustain your overall health, but specifically to support your oral health.

Fruits and Vegetables

On top of other foods, you need to be eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. These plants are packed with vitamins that will keep your teeth healthy. And don’t worry about the sugar in fruit. Their fiber and water content more than make up for it. They also increase saliva production to help wash your teeth of any unwanted bacteria.

Foods to Avoid for Better Oral Health

You probably already have a good idea of what kind of food and drinks to avoid to protect your teeth, such as sugary foods like candy and sodas. However, there may be some that surprise you. For instance, did you know that you should avoid chewing ice since it can damage the enamel of your teeth?

Other foods to avoid include:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Coffee and tea
  • Dried fruit
  • Alcohol

It’s okay to eat and drink from this list occasionally. Just make sure to limit your consumption to protect your teeth for years to come.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits such as lemons and limes contain a lot of acids that can erode the enamel of your teeth. Over time, this erosion can eventually lead to tooth decay. This includes adding lemon or lime wedges to your drinks. Only consume citrus-based juices sparingly and avoiding eating whole citrus fruits. If you do partake, make sure to wash your mouth out with plain water after.

Coffee and Tea

In and of themselves, coffee and tea aren’t that harmful to your teeth. What you really have to look out for is when you add sugar to balance out the flavor. Not only that, but caffeinated tea and coffee can cause dry mouth as well as stain your teeth.

Dried Fruit

Dried fruit may seem healthy but it can wreak havoc on your teeth. This is because they’re so sticky and will cling to your teeth longer than other snacks. The occasional piece of dried fruit in some trail mix is fine as long as you have water to wash it down with. Just avoid making it a regular part of your diet.

Alcohol

Alcohol is known to cause dry mouth and dehydration. While alcohol is fine in moderation, excessive drinking can reduce your ability to produce saliva. This greatly increases your chances of developing tooth decay, gum disease, and even mouth cancer.

Protecting your oral health should be one of your top priorities. Luckily, it’s much easier to do than you may think. Eat lots of foods with calcium, protein, and drink plenty of water. Avoid consuming anything with lots of acids or sugars that may stick to your teeth or cause dry mouth. You should also brush at least twice per day, floss at least once per day, and see your dentist every six months to make sure your teeth stay strong, bright, and healthy for years to come.

Arlington Family Dental is open 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday to help with all your dental needs. Call us today at (229) 725-4545, or you can schedule an appointment online

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