You hear it all the time, “you are what you eat.” Does that bring to mind a giant broccoli stalk lumbering around or maybe a bloated round donut waddling through his day? Your diet varies day by day but making an effort towards proper nutrition benefits not only your overall health but also your oral health. When we choose a food or beverage to consume your teeth, gums and tongue are the initial point of contact and can be impacted in many ways.
What’s going on inside your mouth?
Doctors and nutritionists have been saying for years that a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean proteins can benefit your health in many ways. We hear it; we know it, and our waistline often reflects it. Being human, we sometimes stray from what is good for us. We pick unhealthy options that affect us negatively. What happens in your mouth when you make unwise food and beverage choices? What should you avoid?
- Sugar – hidden in many foods we eat, sugar can stick to the surface of your teeth (unless brushed away twice a day), attracting bacteria which releases acids that cause tooth decay
- Acid –often in many healthy food options that eats away at tooth enamel leaving teeth vulnerable to more issues
Foods to avoid or eat in moderation include candy, cookies, cakes, muffins and anything high in sugar. Extra sticky sugary snacks and dried fruits can cling to teeth and extend damaging effects. Acidic foods, like tomatoes and citrus fruits, are nutritious but should be consumed with other foods, so they help wash away the acid.
Make wise choices
Take care of your oral and overall health with healthy food choices. Your teeth require calcium and phosphorus. These elements can be found in dairy products and protein-rich foods. Milk, cheese, yogurt, almonds and leafy greens are excellent sources of calcium. Phosphorus is plentiful in meat, poultry, eggs and fish. These minerals aid in rebuilding tooth enamel. Fruits and veggies are high in water content as well as fiber which helps clean teeth. They also stimulate saliva which your body’s natural way of cleaning your mouth. Many are also high in Vitamin C & A both key to gum and tooth health.
Just can’t give up soda?
Did you know that soft drinks can contain up to 20 teaspoons of sugar? They also contain high levels of acidity some ranking greater than battery acid. When sugary drinks are common in your diet, your teeth are bathed in sugar that sits on them, attracting bacteria. Do you think diet soda is better for you? Unfortunately, these drinks contain phosphoric acid and/ or citric acid which also cause teeth erosion.
Just got to have it? Some good news is that using a straw reduces soda contact on your teeth. Still, can’t give it up? Root beer has been determined to be a “safer” option. Recent data reports that Root Beer doesn’t contain acids that harm teeth and is usually non-carbonated. The bottom line is limiting your consumption of sodas, juices, energy drinks and anything high in sugar content can aid in preventing tooth decay. Water is by far the best option for your teeth, especially fluoridated types. It is the best at washing away bacteria as well as food particles that may linger in your mouth.
Now envision yourself enjoying a tall glass of milk, a bright red apple or a leafy piece of lettuce and going about your day feeling good. You are what you eat and what you eat affects every part of your body, including your mouth. Proper nutrition is a sound investment in your health and well-being. Take care of those pearly whites with diet and regular dental visits. Your smile with thank you!