How Diet Affects Your Dental Health

Everything you eat and drink comes in contact with your teeth, which means that every choice you make about your diet affects the health of your teeth and gums. There are many food and drinks that actually eat away at the enamel of your teeth, which can lead to cavities. Avoiding sugary, sticky, acidic food and drink in favor of a well-balanced diet that increases your intake of tooth-friendly nutrients like calcium can significantly improve your oral health. Try these tips to keep your smile healthier, longer:

Skip the sweets. We were all taught as children that eating sugary food causes cavities, and it is good advice. Sugary foods like candy, cake, and cookies and drinks like soda, juice, and sports drinks all bathe your teeth in sugar and make it more likely that you will develop cavities. You may be surprised by the amount of sugar in foods like spaghetti sauce, cereal, and canned fruit as well, so be sure to check your labels and limit the amount of sugar you eat and drink.

Stick to non-stick foods. Raisins, honey, molasses, white bread, potato chips, and other starchy foods stick to the surfaces of your teeth and increase your risk for cavities and gum disease. You don’t have to give these things up, but be aware of how often you eat them and consider brushing your teeth after you do.

Avoid the acids. Fresh produce is great for your health, but not always as great for your teeth. Oranges, tomatoes, berries, and other fruits can be very acidic and can erode the enamel of your teeth. Eat these items with a meal rather than by themselves to minimize erosion.

Dilute the stains. Coffee, tea, and red wine stain your teeth due to pigments called chromogens, which attach to your tooth enamel. You don’t have to give up your morning cup of Joe – just be sure to drink it with water to help wash away the chromogens and reduce staining.

Keep a healthy balance. When your body can’t get the calcium and other nutrients it needs to support good oral health, your teeth and gums will suffer. The ADA recommends a diet that includes vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean protein, and dairy to support a healthy mouth. Choose foods that fight inflammation over those that are rich in carbohydrates and trans-fat, and limit your fat intake to healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, and salmon, which contain omega-3 fatty acids.

Boost your calcium intake. Those who get the recommended daily amount of calcium are less likely to develop gum disease. Adults should get 1000 to 1300 milligrams of calcium daily, depending on their age. You can increase your calcium intake by enjoying milk and dairy products, and also by eating beans, almonds, and leafy greens.

Stay hydrated. Water is the healthiest thing you can drink to protect your teeth, reduce acid erosion, and support your overall health. Not only will water help you to produce protective saliva and promote better gum health, but drinking water after meals and snacks will help clean out sticky foods, decrease staining, and wash away sugars and acids.

Your mouth is just one part of your whole body, so the better you eat for overall health, the more your oral health will improve, too. Use common sense and eat to feed your body’s needs and your mouth will benefit. Eat right and keep your smile healthy for life!