Nutrition and oral health have always gone hand in hand. Diet has a significant influence on dental and oral health as it directly affects the progression of dental health conditions. Cavities and gingivitis are just some of the oral diseases that can develop with poor diet and nutrition. This only means that our consumption of healthy foods is good for our physical body and our oral health.
Sure, our dental health routine helps maintain healthy teeth and gums. However, it is not the only thing we can do to ensure our dental health. We can also be picky about our diet and nutrition. This way, we get to have a healthy physical body and healthy teeth and gums. It’s the best of both worlds.
What happens if we don’t watch what we eat? Here are some dental issues that we will most likely encounter if we are reckless about food consumption.
Cavities are among the most common dental health issues, with diet as a significant cause. The Mayo clinic has mentioned how dental caries are “caused” by a combination of frequent snacking and consumption of sugar without proper brushing. As it is, sugary drinks and carbohydrates combine with bacteria in our mouths and convert them to acid. Said acid will then eat away at our tooth enamel, causing holes and tooth decay.
Does it end there? Nope. Further complications are on the horizon. Dental caries may also cause severe pain and bad breath– not to mention an escalation from a simple cavity to tooth decay.
All these are why we need to watch our food intake. That said, proper nutrition should be a priority alongside the dental health care routine. Aside from watching what we eat and making sure we clean our teeth, we should start thinking long-term by consuming food with lots of phosphorus and calcium to help with remineralization.
What kinds of food are good for our dental health?
We should start putting foods rich in calcium and phosphorus in our diet to help strengthen our teeth and gums. Such foods include meat, cheese, milk, nuts, spinach, and broccoli. Crunchy and firm fruits and vegetables are always welcome, so it’s a ‘yes’ to pears, carrots, and apples. These foods are also beneficial in creating more saliva, which, in turn, helps clean your mouth by washing away food debris and particles out of your gums, in between your teeth, and your tongue.
Moreover, crunchy fruits and vegetables have high water content. Water, as we know, is highly beneficial to our overall physical health. What we don’t know is that it also helps dilute the sugar and carbohydrates we ingest. This means lesser mouth bacteria and, therefore, lesser acids that cause dental caries.
What kinds of food should we avoid?
If there are foods we should go for to promote our dental health, there are also those that are detrimental to it. While there is no need to go out of our way to avoid these (unless specifically told to by a health professional), perhaps we should make sure not to overconsume. Too much of anything, no matter how delicious, is always bad for us. Highly acidic food like citrus fruits, lemons, grapefruits, oranges, and tomatoes, for example, are some of those we shouldn’t overeat. As they are too acidic, they can cause dental caries and sores.
We should also start watching our sugar and carbohydrates intake, not only to manage our weight but also to reduce our chances of developing dental caries. Once we eat carbohydrates-laden food, it breaks down into its sugary composition, which then combines with our mouth bacteria to create acid. And we all know what that acid is capable of doing.
Some of the foods high in sugar and carbs include cakes, candy, pies, cookies, potato chips, bagels, French fries, bread, and rice. As you can see, they are also some of the most delicious foods ever invented. Our self-restraint must be fool-proof.
Dried fruits and raisins are also high in sugar content, despite being considered healthy, so we should watch our consumption of those. Moreover, such foods tend to stick to our teeth, gums, and even the roof of our mouths. Without proper cleaning, they will increase our risk of developing cavities.
What kind of drinks should we watch out for?
Like food, we should also watch what we drink. Water is your best solution, especially if it has fluoride. Water hydrates not only our bodies but also our mouths. It creates plenty of salivae which helps neutralize bacteria and acids. It also flushes out food particles from crevices between your teeth and gums. The fluoride should help strengthen your enamel. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with drinking water.
But of course, since we like variety, perhaps we should go for drinks with low sugar and carbs, or the non-acidic ones. Milk should be fine. It has calcium, so it should help strengthen our teeth. Unsweetened teas are also good.
Sodas, however, are a different story. Sure, they quench our thirst, especially on a hot summer day, but they are highly acidic and sugar-laden. And we know what happens when we consume too much sugar and acidic food. Lemonade, while natural and extremely popular, is also naturally acidic. Flavored drink mixes are a huge no-no. If you can avoid them altogether, you should. If you can’t, try to use them sparingly. Also, try not to drink coffee by the gallon.
Consult your dentists!
If you’re not sure which foods and drinks to avoid, especially if you have existing dental issues, make sure to ask your dentists for advice. They should be able to assess your needs as well as that of your family. They should also be able to better explain the relationship between diet and oral health. As they say, knowledge is power. Better knowledge and understanding of the relationship between nutrition and oral health should help maintain and improve our dental health.