March 3, 2020
These days, nutrition advice is everywhere, and researchers know a lot more than they once did about how your eating habits affect your health. But did you know that your diet impacts your teeth and gums as well? The foods and beverages you consume each day can help you have fewer cavities, healthier gums and even fresher breath – or they can contribute to those problems. And since March is National Nutrition Month, it’s the perfect time to find out more about the link between diet and oral health. Keep reading to learn more!
How Does Food Impact Your Oral Health?
Every time you take a bite of food or sip on a beverage, you expose your teeth and gums to a variety of substances that have the potential to help or harm your oral health. For example, sugars and carbohydrates cause certain bacteria in your mouth to produce acid that wears away at your enamel and increases your risk for cavities.
By learning about good dietary choices, you can lessen the “bad stuff” and increase the “good stuff.” And when you combine those choices with good oral hygiene habits and regular checkups, you can look forward to less dental work and a healthier, more beautiful smile.
Foods That Benefit Your Smile
Include these foods for cavity prevention:
- Crunchy fruits and vegetables – Munching on things like celery, apple and carrots benefits your teeth in multiple ways. They naturally clean the plaque and bacteria on your teeth and also stimulate salivary flow, which neutralizes acids.
- Dairy products – Cheese, milk, and yogurt (low or no-sugar) contain protein that counteracts cavity-causing acids.
Focus on these foods for gum health:
- Vitamin C – The vitamin C in foods like berries, peppers and citrus fruits reduces inflammation in your gums (a major contributing factor to gum disease) and also boosts your immunity to help you fight off bad bacteria in your mouth.
- Green tea – Green tea has potent antioxidants that reduce inflammation throughout the entire body, including your gums.
- Shiitake mushrooms – Shiitake mushrooms have a unique ability to fight the type of bacteria that cause gum disease.
Foods That Increase the Risk of Oral Health Problems
As mentioned, sugars and carbohydrates increase acid production in the mouth. While you don’t have to give them up completely, minimizing soda, candies, cookies, dried fruit and juice will go a long way towards preventing cavities.
It’s also important to be aware of anything that can dry your mouth out such as beverages with a diuretic effect (coffee, alcohol, and energy drinks). Saliva naturally protects against tooth decay, so “dry mouth” will significantly increase your risk of cavities.
Now that you’ve learned how your diet affects your oral health for National Nutrition Month, you’ll be on your way to a healthier smile in no time.
About the Author
Dr. Kari Blankenship is a family dentist with nearly a decade of experience. She’s dedicated to helping her patients achieve great oral health and has found that better dietary choices can make all the difference. If you’d like to know more about nutrition and your oral health or have any questions, she can be reached via her website.
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