You’re probably well aware of the fact that the foods you put into your body directly affect how you feel and look. Eating a lot of starchy, high-fat, or high-sugar foods tends to make you feel zapped and sluggish. It can also, of course, lead to weight gain.
Nutrition also plays a significant role in your oral health. Just as the organs in your body need certain nutrients to function properly and maintain peak condition, so do your teeth and gums. Learn more about how nutrition affects your oral health and what you can do to make sure your teeth and gums are getting the nutrients they need to stay strong and healthy throughout your life.
Calcium and Phosphorous Help to Strengthen Your Teeth
Tooth enamel is one of the hardest materials in the human body. Two of the main minerals that make up tooth enamel are calcium and phosphorous, which form calcium phosphate. Making sure your diet contains plenty of sources of both calcium and phosphorous will help you keep your tooth enamel strong.
You’re probably very familiar with some of the more popular dietary sources of calcium. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, are high in calcium. But you don’t have to eat dairy to make sure you get enough calcium in your diet. Non-dairy sources of this important mineral include leafy green vegetables, such as kale and broccoli, canned fish, dried beans, and almonds. If you can eat soy, soy milk and tofu are both often fortified with calcium.
Dairy products are also a good source of the mineral phosphorous. Other dietary sources of this mineral include meat, eggs, beans, and whole grains.
Vitamin C Promotes Gum Health
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help speed up wound healing and improve circulation. It’s been shown to help improve the health of your gums, so if you regularly struggle with gingivitis, adding or increasing the amount of vitamin C you take in each day might help.
Lots of fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin C. Citrus fruits are some of the more well-known sources of the vitamin, but red and green bell peppers, cantaloupe, berries, broccoli, and potatoes are also good sources of vitamin C.
Fiber Helps Clean Your Teeth
Another way that the foods you eat can help improve your dental health is by scrubbing away food bits and plaque throughout the day. Some foods are better at cleaning your teeth than others. For example, foods that are high in fiber, such as vegetables and fruits, are known to help “clean” the teeth after meals. Fiber has a gentle abrasive effect, which loosens other food particles and helps to scrub away plaque without damaging your teeth. Plus, when you eat crunchy, fibrous fruits and vegetables, your mouth produces more saliva, which also helps to rinse your mouth clean.
Although finishing a meal with an apple or a handful of raw carrots can be good for the health of your teeth, fibrous foods aren’t a substitute for regular teeth cleaning. You’ll still want to brush your teeth twice a day and see your dentist for regular exams and cleanings.
Skip the Snacks to Improve Dental Health
It’s not only what you eat, but when you eat that can have an effect on the health of your teeth and gums. Snacking between meals gives sugar a chance to build up your teeth, increasing your risk for cavities and other dental problems. If you can, limit your eating to mealtimes only.
If you do get hungry between meals, choose your snacks with care. Try to pick foods that can benefit your teeth, such as cheese and yogurt or produce such as carrots and apples.
Consider Limiting Sweets and Acidic Foods
Although some foods can have a positive effect on your teeth, others can contribute to decay or enamel erosion. Sugary foods such as candies, cakes and cookies and sweetened drinks like soda and juice are some of the worst offenders when it comes to causing tooth decay. If you do have a sweet tooth, try to eat your sweet treats at the same time as a meal to reduce the risk of decay and to give other foods a chance to rinse away the sugar from the sweets.
In some cases, foods that are otherwise healthy can do some damage to the teeth. Acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus can increase the chance of enamel erosion. You don’t have to cut these foods out of your diet. Just make sure to eat them with other foods and to drink plenty of water while you eat to rinse the acid off of your teeth.
Good nutrition is the key to a happy, healthy body, including a healthy mouth. If you’re in the Miami area and have more questions about how nutrition affects your oral health, Dr. John Paul Gallardo will be happy to answer them. Dr. Gallardo is a periodontal specialist in the Miami area who can recommend dental care options that work for you and your needs. To schedule an appointment in Miami, FL, call 305-547-8687 today.