Proper nutrition is an important component in any oral health care plan. Explained in the most basic terms, what you eat impacts the health of your teeth and gums, helping to keep them attractive, strong and functioning as intended. Alternately, the health of teeth impacts what a person is able to eat. As children, diet impacts how the teeth grow and develop, and as adults, foods contribute to maintaining a healthy mouth and health smile.
Dietary Guidelines for Dental Health
To maintain a healthy diet, choose items from the five major food groups in moderate portions throughout the day. These foods contain important nutrients including protein, calcium, and phosphorus for the development and maintenance of the tooth structure. They also contain folate, antioxidants, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C and omega-3 fats, among other nutrients, which contribute to healthy connective tissues, mucosal and immune functioning. Many nutritionists suggest filling your plate with natural foods representing every color of the rainbow to increase your chances of receiving the ideal quantities of all these essential nutrients.
Components of a healthy diet according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture include:
- 6 to 11 servings of grain based carbohydrates
- 3 to 5 servings of vegetables
- 2 to 4 servings of fruit
- 2 to 3 servings of dairy
- 2 to 3 servings of healthy proteins (lean meats, fish, nuts, legumes)
Foods to Avoid
Foods high in carbohydrates, sugar, and starch have been shown to contribute to the production of plaque acids in the mouth. These acids attack tooth enamel and can cause cavities. Consuming any sugar has the potential to increase plaque acids in the mouth, but some foods that contain sugars also contain beneficial ingredients. Milk, fruits, and even some vegetables are good examples. These foods are part of a healthy diet, but an overabundance of sugar is not. Controlling one’s intake of sugar is a good idea, and it involves reading labels, avoiding sugary snacks and sodas and making choices that are low in sugar.
Sugar and Dental Health
Managing the amount of sugar in the diet does not have to mean eliminating it completely, moderation is key. Sugar is best consumed at a meal because saliva production is highest at that time, and an increased production of saliva helps to wash foods that contribute to increased plaque acids from the mouth. At snack time, smart food choices include nutritious choices such as yogurt, cheese, raw vegetables and whole fruits.
Combined with brushing, flossing and regular visits to your dentist, the proper diet is an excellent preventative measure anyone can take to reduce the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and periodontal disease.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do the foods I eat matter to the health of my mouth?
The foods your eat fuel your body with the nutrients needed to stay healthy. With proper nutrition, your mouth is better able to fight bacteria and disease, helping you to avoid problems including gingivitis and tooth decay.
Are apples good for my teeth?
Yes, fruits and vegetables containing fleshy fiber help to scrub your teeth and fight plaque. Additionally, fruits like apples are high in many vitamins and minerals that benefit your overall health. While eating apples is healthy, please understand it is not a substitute for daily brushing and flossing or visits to Oso Marguerite Dental.
Is obesity linked to any oral health concerns?
Obesity is linked to inflammation throughout the body. As a result, obesity is the second biggest risk factor for inflammation in the mouth. Eating a healthy diet helps individuals to maintain a healthy weight, and that too contributes to improved oral health.
I would like help making healthy changes to my diet that will improve my oral health. What should I do?
The team at Oso Marguerite Dental is happy to discuss your diet and make recommendations for improving your oral health. Call and speak with a member of our front office staff to schedule your appointment.