Nutrition and Dental Health
Nutrition and Dental Health- Diet and Tooth Decay
Everyone knows that a balanced, nutritious diet is essential for healthy living. But did you know that eating patterns and food choices play an important role in preventing tooth decay and gum disease, too? Nutrition and dental health go hand in hand.
The foods you eat and the beverages you drink can have a direct influence on the incidence and progression of tooth decay, depending on many factors:
- 1.) the consistency or form of the food
- 2.) how often you eat sugary food and beverages
- 3.) how often you eat or drink acidic foods and beverages
- 4.) nutritional value of the food
- 5.) medical conditions (ex. eating disorders or gastrointestinal reflux- can increase your risk of cavities and weaken the tooth enamel)
- 6.) combination of the food you eat and the order in which you eat them
- 7.) sugary foods cause cavities
Here are some common added sugars:
- brown sugar
- cane sugar
- confectioners’ or powdered sugar
- turbinado sugar
- raw sugar
- corn sweeteners
- corn syrup
- crystallized cane sugar
- evaporated cane juice
- fruit juice concentrate
- high fructose corn syrup
- invert sugar
- malt syrup
- maple syrup
Foods That May Harm Dental Health:
- Empty calorie foods (candy: lollipops, mints, taffy, caramel), cookies, muffins, cakes, and other snack foods (these foods not only offer no nutritional value, but the sugar is also not healthy for your teeth). Tooth decay is caused by the bacteria in your mouth feeding off the sugars you eat, releasing acids.
- Drinks containing sugar (soda, juice, lemonade, sweetened coffee or tea etc) – drinking these drinks causes your teeth to be constantly bathed in sugar, promoting tooth decay.
- Even nutritious, acidic foods (citrus fruits, tomatoes) also have an acidic effect on your teeth. Plaque acids are produced and continue to harm your teeth.
Foods That May Benefit Dental Health:
- Cheese, plain yogurt, leafy greens, milk, almonds and other foods that are high in calcium provide nutrients to teeth and also promote strong bones.
- Protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish, milk and eggs are the best sources of phosphorus which plays a critical role in dental health, by protecting and rebuilding tooth enamel.
- Fruits and vegetables are high in water and fibre which balance the sugars they contain and assist in keeping your teeth healthy and clean. Fruits and vegetables also stimulate saliva production which helps neutralize harmful acids and wash particles away from your teeth, protecting your teeth from decay.
- Vitamins such as Vitamin A and Vitamin C are important for promoting healthy gums and quick healing of wounds, in addition to building tooth enamel.
- Water, of course, is the most tooth-friendly beverage (particularly fluoridated water).
- Sugar Substitutes and Sugar-Free Products (actually don’t promote decay-causing acids).
Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Cavities:
- Always brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes to remove sugars and food particles from your teeth.
- Keep added sugar in your diet to a minimum by making wise food and beverage choices.
- Limit between-meal snacking.
- Include dairy, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and water in your diet – These all play a role in your dental health.