Everybody knows that a well-balanced diet is good for a healthy lifestyle. Your food choices affect your body – but they also greatly affect your oral health. What you choose to eat helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Your mouth, teeth and gums are also your tools for eating, chewing and swallowing so it’s important to keep them healthy with the right foods.
A HEALTHY DIET
According to choosemyplate.gov, a website from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, a balanced diet should include:
- Fruits and Vegetables
Combined, these should cover half your plate at meals.
Half the grains you eat should be whole grains.
Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
Make lean protein choices.
DIET AND TOOTH DECAY
According to the American Dental Association, the foods you eat and what you drink can have a direct influence on how often cavities occur and how they progress. This is dependent on a few factors including:
- The form of the food and whether it’s liquid, solid, sticky or slow to dissolve;
- The frequency with which you eat or drink sugary and acidic foods and beverages;
- The combination of the foods you eat and the order in which you eat them;
- Medical conditions you might have, such as acid reflux or eating disorders, which can increase the risk of cavities and weaken your teeth.
LIMIT THE SUGAR IN YOUR DIET
Bacteria found in your mouth feed off of the sugars in food and release acids, which can lead to tooth decay. Sweets and snack foods are a concern for oral health because of the amount and type of sugar they contain, not to mention that they offer little or no nutritional value.
Sugary drinks like soda, lemonade and sweetened coffee or tea are particularly harmful because the constant sipping creates a sugar bath over the teeth and promotes tooth decay.
FOODS THAT MAY BENEFIT DENTAL HEALTH
Foods rich in calcium and other nutrients are good for tooth health. They include cheese, milk, yogurt, leafy greens and almonds. For sources of phosphorous, try protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Both calcium and phosphorous are important for protecting and rebuilding tooth enamel.
Other healthy food choices are fruits and vegetables, since they are high in both water and fiber. These foods also help stimulate saliva production, which will wash harmful acids and food particles away from the teeth. Many contain Vitamin C, which is important for healthy gums and quick healing of wounds, and also Vitamin, which is a key nutrient in building tooth enamel.