You brush your teeth every morning and night. You floss daily. You visit the dentist every six months. But before you pat yourself on the back, let’s take a look at one other component of good preventive care: diet.
You’re surely aware that what you eat (and don’t eat) has an enormous influence on the health and well-being of your body. But have you considered how the foods you choose affects your mouth specifically?
By increasing your consumption of tooth-healthy foods, you can be sure that your teeth and gums are getting the nutrients they need to remain strong and free of disease. And foods that are good for your oral health tend to be good for your whole body.
At Uptown Dental Associates, we offer nutritional counseling along with a full roster of preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dental services. To book a consultation, call our Albuquerque, NM office at 505-407-8781.
Best Foods for Dental Health
Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products are prime sources of calcium. Almost all of the calcium in your body is stored in the teeth and bones. The mineral is essential for proper bone and tooth development in children, and for keeping your choppers strong through adulthood.
But the benefits don’t end there. Dairy products contain phosphorus, is a mineral that works with calcium to strengthen teeth. They also have proteins called caseins, which bond together to form a coating on your tooth enamel that protects against bacterial acid attacks.
And cheese has a special property: studies have shown that it raises pH levels in the mouth. A high pH discourages the proliferation of harmful, acid-producing bacteria, thus lowering the chances of tooth decay and gum disease.
Low in sugar, filling, and downright delicious, nuts are a snack that even a dentist can love. Nuts are packed with body-boosting nutrients, but low in the carbohydrates that bacteria love to feast on. Chewing on them increases the production of saliva in your mouth, rinsing away bacteria and food particles. Eat them by the handful or toss in salads. Nuts are packed with goodness for your teeth.
Feel free to feast on kale, spinach, watercress, and other leafy greens. These nutritious (and low-calorie) vegetables are loaded with tooth-strengthening calcium, making them a valuable source of the mineral for vegans. Leafy greens are also a good way to get your folic acid, which helps promote gum health by reducing inflammation and protecting gum tissue from the effects of plaque and bacteria. Folic acid is especially important for pregnant women, who, due to hormone fluctuations, are susceptible to gum problems or “pregnancy gingivitis.”
Gobble up your turkey, fish, and other lean protein sources. In addition to supplying your body with protein, these meats contain valuable phosphorus, which works with calcium to keep your teeth strong and able to resist acid attacks from bacteria.
Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables
Raw fruits and veggies that crunch when you bite into them are good news for your teeth and gums — even if, like apples, they do contain some sugar. They provide your body with nutrients and are high in water, which helps keep the mouth clean. Their fibrous texture massages the gums as you chew. They also increase the production of saliva in your mouth, which rinses away food particles and disease-causing bacteria.
If you are thirsty, choose water. Stay away from soda, sports drinks, and juices. These coat the inside of your mouth with sugar and cause bacteria to proliferate and create the acids that eat away at your tooth enamel. Diet sodas aren’t much better. They don’t have sugar, but they do contain acids that will damage your teeth.
Drinking water throughout the day is one of the best ways to stay hydrated and keep your mouth clean between brushings. Water dilutes acids and washes away nasty bacteria and bits of food. Whenever possible, choose tap. Most municipal water supplies are fortified with fluoride, a mineral that’s essential to keeping your tooth enamel strong and resilient.
Invest in a reusable water bottle that you can fill with tap water and take with you when you’re out and about. At Uptown Dental Associates, we believe that nutrition is a vital component of a good dental health plan. When you come in for your checkup, we will be happy to discuss which foods you should avoid and which should be incorporated into your diet.