Eating for Good Oral Health | Pat Crawford DDS

Eating for Good Oral Health

Eating for Good Oral Health

Everyone knows that excess consumption of sugar can lead to cavities, but maintaining a tooth-friendly diet goes way beyond merely avoiding sugar. In addition to avoiding certain foods and drinks, you also need to add healthy food choices to your diet and pay attention to how and when you eat. The following healthy eating guidelines can help you receive high marks from your dentist at your next checkup.

Foods and Drinks that Damage Oral Health

To keep your teeth and gums in great shape, you should avoid or severely limit these items:

  • Sugars: In any form, whether in a cookie or in products made from refined white flour, sugars contribute to the erosion of tooth enamel, which makes teeth vulnerable to decay.
  • Acidic Beverages: Carbonated drinks, fruit juices, coffee, tea and wine are highly acidic and erode tooth enamel the same as sugar.
  • Processed Foods: Not only do many processed foods contain “white” carbs that are essentially sugar, but they are also devoid of vitamins and minerals that help protect the teeth and support healthy gum tissues.

Smart Snacking for Healthy Teeth

While many diet gurus will tell you that grazing throughout the day is a good way to speed up your metabolism, following this advice can wreck your teeth. Saliva protects your teeth from acid erosion caused by sugars and starches, and you produce more saliva during a large meal than when eating a quick snack. Therefore, it is best to eat starchy foods and the occasional dessert during a meal rather than on their own as a snack. If you do find that you need to snack occasionally, choose raw vegetables, yogurt or cheese rather than starchy pretzels or potato chips.

Diet for Healthy Teeth and Gums

So now that you know when and how to eat, what’s on the menu for good oral health? Here’s a list of the top food items that support a healthy mouth and body:

  • Water: To keep the mouth moist and wash away food particles and bacteria from the teeth, gums and tongue, drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Whole Grains: Containing B vitamins and other vital nutrients, whole grains such as brown rice, oats, quinoa and cereals offer protection against mouth sores and ulcers.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: The vitamins and minerals in fresh produce, especially vitamins A and C, can help you maintain healthy gum tissues.
  • Lean Proteins: Lean meats and legumes contain minerals such as magnesium and zinc that help keep teeth strong.
  • Low-Fat Dairy Products: Cheese, yogurt and milk contain calcium, a mineral that helps strengthen tooth enamel to protect it against attack from sugars and starches.

Your Mouth and Body Are Connected

Your mouth is not separate from your body, so if you take steps to support all of the cells of your body with nutrient-rich foods, your teeth and gums will benefit as well. Maintaining regular teeth cleanings at your local dentist office combined with consuming whole, unprocessed foods and limiting sugary treats to special occasions, will increase your chances of maintaining healthy teeth for a lifetime.