Maintaining good oral health goes well beyond brushing your teeth and flossing every day – although you should definitely be doing that. Diet has a huge impact on your overall general health and also affects the health of your teeth. Some foods are great for your dental hygiene, while others should be enjoyed in moderation.
Let’s take a look at the nutrients you need to keep your teeth strong and the foods you should try to avoid to prevent enamel erosion.
Dietary Needs for Oral Health
Your teeth and gums need certain vitamins and minerals to remain healthy. Look for foods that are high in the following:
- Calcium. Dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt are high in calcium, which keep your teeth strong and helps rebuild tooth enamel. If you don’t do dairy, other sources of calcium include salmon, almonds and dark leafy vegetables.
- Phosphorous. Phosphorous is a mineral that’s important for oral health. Like calcium, you’ll find it in a lot of dairy products. Other foods that are high in phosphorus include poultry, eggs, fish, nuts and beans.
- Vitamin C. Vitamin C is great for all-around health, specifically the health of your gums. It helps prevent oral health problems like gingivitis which is a relatively common problem many people struggle with causing gum sensitivity. You probably know that citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruits are high in Vitamin C, but they’re also acidic, which can be bad for your teeth. You may want to get your Vitamin C from other sources like broccoli, potatoes or spinach.
- Polyphenols. Polyphenols are a type of nutrient that can reduce your risk of cavities and gum disease by fighting harmful bacteria. They are found in many foods, including berries, black beans, soy, artichoke and black and green teas.
- Fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens enamel and reduces tooth decay. Drinking and cooking with fluoridated water is a simple way to improve your oral health. If you drink bottled water, check the label before you buy, as not all brands contain fluoride.
A simple tweak in your nutritional plan and some conscious grocery shopping can help make all the difference. Really, the options are endless and include probably quite a bit of what you’ve already got in your kitchen. However, be aware of the foods you should avoid and only enjoy in moderation.
What Foods to Avoid
Some of the foods that can be bad for your teeth include:
- Sticky or chewy candies. It probably comes as no surprise that sugar increases your risk for cavities. This is especially true for candies that stick to your teeth. If you do indulge in the occasional caramel or lollipop, try to rinse out your mouth or brush your teeth soon afterward.
- Soft drinks. Most sodas are acidic as well as high in sugar, both of which can be harmful to your oral health. If you drink a lot of soda, consider swapping it out for a healthier alternative, like sparkling water or fruit-infused H20.
- Starchy foods. Foods with a lot of starch are more likely to stick to your teeth, which can cause plaque to build up. Common starchy foods include bread, potato chips, corn and many types of cereal. After enjoying a starchy meal, it’s especially important to floss to make sure all of the food particles are removed.
The slightest change can make all the difference in your oral health. So, next time you reach for a soda think about the long term effect it could have on your smile.
Protect Your Oral Health
At LifeSmiles by Dr. Randy Mitchmore, we want to keep every smile as healthy as it can be. We offer a full range of dental services, from routine cleanings and whitening procedures to top-of-the-line dental implants. Contact us to learn more or schedule your appointment.