The food you eat greatly affects the health of your teeth and gums – for bad or good. While a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, grains and lean proteins benefit your overall health, there are also some specific foods and nutrients that can help prevent tooth decay and different gum diseases. Tooth decay or caries happen when the teeth are destroyed by acid products from oral bacteria. Proper oral hygiene and smart selection of foods and drinks in your daily diet can prevent this problem.
It is a fact that mucosal cells in the mouth regenerate within 3-7 days. So, the nutrients deficit or overdose will show up in your mouth before they become visible anywhere else. The lack of vitamins and minerals contributes to the development of periodontal disease, and consuming enough of certain nutrients may be a part of successful treatment. Below we provide you with some helpful tips to make you smile shiny and healthy:
“Say Cheese” or How to Make Your Dental Diet Well-balanced
The key to successful nutrition is moderation and variety of products. Your everyday diet should include products from the 5 main groups of food: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products and meat (chicken, fish or beans as alternative). Don’t fall over the diets that exclude the entire food groups: they are harmful for your overall health and may result in vitamin and mineral deficit. The following products help promote healthy teeth and gums:
- Calcium-rich foods
Responsible for a healthy heart, bones and blood: milk with low fat content, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, tofu, salmon, sardines, almonds, sesame and chia seeds, quinoa, kale, raw spinach, broccoli, soy milk, white beans, Brazil nuts, figs.
- Phosphorus-rich foods
Responsible for strong bones, body detoxication and nutrient absorption: eggs, fish, lean meat, whole milk, cheese, yogurt, sunflower seeds, beans, tuna, sardines, salmon, almonds, brown rice, broccoli.
- Vitamin C
Responsible for gum health, strengthening of blood vessels and reducing inflammation: citrus, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes, spinach, kiwi, strawberries, kale.
- Vitamin D
Responsible for proper absorption of Calcium: sunlight, artificial Vitamin D or complex vitamins, fish, egg yolks or cod liver oil.
Responsible for removing plaque and healthy gums: yogurt, kombucha, miso and other types of fermented foods.
Responsible for protecting teeth of plaque and oral cancer: berries, grapes, plums, eggplant, asparagus, plums, bananas.
Responsible for reducing the formation of plaque and decay: turkey, pork, chicken, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, spirulina, dairy, chickpeas, lentils.
Responsible for slowing the bacteria growth, preventing tooth decay, gum diseases and bad breath: tea (preferably green), berries, flaxseed, cocoa.
Smart Snacking Rules
If you prefer eating often, with several snacks between the meals, do it wisely. Frequent snacking increases the amount of daily acid attacks on your teeth. So, try to choose nutritious and sugarless food for your snacks, such as raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, plain yogurt, cheese or milk. Don’t forget about brushing your teeth after snack or, at least, rinsing the mouth with water to get rid of food particles and wash away acid.
Be aware that protein serves as a perfect buffer against acid, so, keeping at home nuts, cheese, sandwiches with turkey is a great way to have a bite between meals. Apples, pears and celery are also good alternative that help rinse bacteria from your mouth. Avoid or reduce the consumption of sticky candies, crackers, cookies, dried fruits and other sweets, or eat such food as a part of your meal. Combination with other products helps minimize acids in the mouth. For example, you can eat crackers with cheese as a less harmful alternative. Having one dessert after dinner is healthier than eating small sugary snacks many times a day.
Best Choices for Snacks:
- Fresh fruits or canned fruits in natural juices
- Raw vegetables
- Plain Yogurt
Sweets and Treats: How to Choose Wisely?
When it comes to sweets, the biggest concern is dental cavities. Total exclusion of sweets in all varieties seems to be the best solution, but it is not realistic. While it is impossible to avoid sugar in food completely, the key is moderation. Below are some ways to help you limit sweet content in your diet:
- Some Sweets Are Worse
Sticky sweet stuff, such as caramels, toffees or dried fruits, is the worst. Such food increases the duration of an acid influence on your teeth. Hard candies (gummy bears or jelly beans) are not better: they take time to dissolve, making your teeth exposed to sugar acids.
- Use a Straw When Consuming Sweet Beverages
Sweets in the form of liquid (soft carbonated drinks, juices with added sugar, coffee and tea with added sugar, cocoa) are not the best choice, especially if you have a habit of swishing your drink in the mouth before swallowing. If you can’t resist drinking sweet beverages, use a straw. It makes the liquid go to the back of your mouth, bypassing teeth area. Try to drink sweet beverages in one sitting with a meal. Sipping soda throughout the day stimulates bacteria growth and tooth decay. Water or unsweetened tea (preferably green) is the best hydration choice.
- Limit the Frequency of Eating Sweets
For your healthy teeth, it is more important to limit the frequency of consuming sweets, than its total amount. It will be more harmful for your teeth to eat 5 candies during the day comparing to having them all 5 at one sitting. Doing this way you reduce the amount of acid attack on the teeth. If talking about children, the biggest sweet teeth, a good practice is choosing one “sweet day” in a week when they can eat candies and other sweets without limitations.
Part of oral care services at Elite Dentistry of Simi Valley is to evaluate and educated patients of all ages with proper healthy diet.
Prevention is always better than treatment. Though dental medicine can make your teeth whiter and stronger, try to avoid cavities and stain in the first place. Developing your food awareness, limiting the number of snacks you eat and drinking more water – these are simple swaps you can make even today.
There are some dental situations that foresee restrictive diets for patients till the treatment is completed. If you have lost a tooth, experience pain or have a joint dysfunction, you may not be able to chew some types of food. That is why, it is essential to talk to your dentist and make up a personal nutritionally balanced diet.