Foods That Prevent Common Dental Problems
by Sarah Smith
Most of us eat balanced diets and know the importance of proper nutrition to stay healthy, lose weight or just to feel good. Plus, a good, balanced diet will help to boost our immune system, keeping common colds and flus at bay. But did you know that what you eat affects the health of your teeth?
Recently there have been studies done that prove there is a direct link between nutrition and oral health. Food choices and eating patterns play a vital role in preventing gum disease and tooth decay.
When we drink or eat something that contains sugar, these sugars react with the bacteria in our mouths to produce acids that are harmful to our teeth and our teeth’s enamel. When your teeth’s enamel is eroded, it can lead to sensitivity and cavities as well as the appearance and functioning of your teeth. If consumed in moderation and when you maintain a regular oral hygiene schedule, eating sugar doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
For instance, sweet treats and candy will stick to our teeth and leave behind deposits of sugar which will lead to tooth decay and dental fillings if not cleaned properly and quickly. Aerated fizzy drinks like soda pop contain acids that will erode your teeth’s enamel (plus they’re bad for your waistline).
Common Dental Health Problems Can Be Prevented By:
- Practice good oral hygiene, including brushing after meals and before bed, flossing and using a fluoridated mouth wash. If you have a history of dental problems, use fluoridated toothpaste to help keep your teeth strong and healthy.
- If you’re concerned about the recent debate on fluoride and its possible side effects, try incorporating Xylitol into your routine. Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that has shown to prevent cavities by inhibiting the growth of the cavity causing bacteria on our teeth.
- Eating a healthy diet filled with vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, protein and whole grains. These foods provide the essential nutrients needed for optimal overall health as well as your dental health.
- Limit eating and drinking between meals. If you do snack, stay away from the sweets and choose raw veggies, cheese or nuts instead. These will contribute to your overall health as well as your dental health.
Foods to Avoid
Almost anything can be bad for you and your teeth if consumed in excess. These foods aren’t necessarily harmful to your teeth but special care should be taken to only consume them in moderation and take care to brush your teeth well soon afterwards to avoid dental decay.
Soda Pop and Sports Drinks:
The acid and chemicals contained in these drinks can weaken and erode tooth enamel. Plus they contain a lot of sugar which can be harmful to your teeth and waistline.
Foods such as pizza, chips, potatoes and breads often leave behind pieces, stuck between your teeth. These bits will slowly turn to sugar and start to harm your teeth’s enamel.
Fruit and Fruit Juices:
Even though fresh fruit and fruit juice is part of a nutritious and healthy diet, both do contain a lot of natural sugar – which can lead to tooth decay and enamel erosion if not cleaned properly.
Good Foods for Good Dental Health
If you’re looking for foods to help your teeth and delay any sort of dental problems and trips to the dentist, these will help you:
While this may be an obvious one, it’s something that we sometimes need to be reminded of. Water has many health benefits in addition to promoting good dental health.
Green tea contains polyphenols, a chemical that provides anti-oxidants and aids in suppressing the bad bacteria in our mouth, and helps to fight plaque buildup.
Low fat dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt are known to contain calcium (the building block of healthy bones and teeth) as well as many other vital vitamins and minerals.
Nuts contain high levels of many vitamins and minerals essential for good overall and dental health. These should be eaten in moderation due to their high fat content.
Fruits and Vegetables:
Everyone knows that fruits and vegetables are vital for good health because they are densely packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. You do need to be careful with fruits though as they contain high levels of sugar.
There are many foods and beverages that can either harm your teeth or help to promote good oral health; this is but a short list. One point to remember is that everything in moderation is key not only for your teeth but for your overall health. And maintaining good oral hygiene through regular brushing and flossing is absolutely vital to keep your teeth healthy and shiny. And it will keep you out of the dentist’s chair – which is great for you and your wallet.
(Sarah Smith is an avid health and nutrition blogger. She’s currently working with Cornerstone Dentist Langley to help educate the public about the role nutrition plays in dental health.)