Diet and Oral Health

Your body is a complex machine. The foods and drinks you choose and how often you eat them can affect your general health and the health of your teeth and gums. If you consume too many sugar-filled sodas, sweetened fruit drinks or juices, and non-nutritious snacks you could be increasing your risk for tooth decay. Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease that persists throughout life.

Tooth decay occurs when unremoved bacterial plaque collects on your teeth and comes into contact with sugars in the mouth forming an acid that dissolves and destroys your natural tooth structure.

Foods that contain sugars of any kind can contribute to tooth decay. To control the amount of sugar you eat, read the nutrition facts and ingredient labels on foods and beverages and intentionally choose the options that are lowest in sugar. Common sources of sugar in the diet include, soft drinks, candy, cookies, and pastries. Your physician or a registered dietician can also provide suggestions for eating a nutritious diet. If your diet lacks certain nutrients, it may be more difficult for tissues in your mouth to resist infection. This may contribute to periodontal (gum) disease which is a leading cause for tooth loss in adults. Many research studies suggest that the disease progresses faster and is potentially more severe in people with poor nutrition.

Making better choices:

For healthy living and for healthy teeth and gums, think before you eat and drink. It is not only what you eat, but how often you eat that can affect your dental health. Eat a balanced diet and limit between meal snacking. If you are on a special diet, keep your physician’s advice in mind when choosing what to eat and drink.

Limit the number of snacks you eat. If you do snack, choose something that is healthy like fruits or vegetables. Foods that are eaten as part of a full meal cause less harm to teeth than eating lots of snacks throughout the day because more saliva is naturally produced and released during a meal. At a basic level, saliva rinses foods from teeth and has a protective chemistry that lessens the effects of acids, which can harm teeth and result in cavities.

To maintain healthy teeth and gums make these choices:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid acidic foods and drinks
  • Avoid sugary foods and drinks
  • Eat a well balanced diet from each of the five major food groups: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat and fat-free dairy foods

In addition to a healthy diet, you will need to schedule regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings in my office to keep your smile, and yourself, healthy!