Nutrition and Oral Health: You are What You Eat
If you’ve ever heard the expression, “you are what you eat,” there may be more truth to that than you think. Our mouth is a tool that keeps the machine, also known as our body, strong. In order to keep the mouth healthy, you need to give it what it needs, not what it craves, no matter how badly you want to reach for that slice of pizza. Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods from each of the five food groups, promotes healthy teeth and gums, while strengthening our immune system in the process. A balanced, well-rounded diet will also protect the teeth from decay and keep your dental health as well as your physical health in optimal shape.
Diet and Oral-Systemic Connection
Foods that contain sugars of any kind contribute to tooth decay. Though almost all foods contain sugar, it’s important to avoid added sugars that are found in sports drinks, candy, and cookies. If foods don’t contain any nutritional value, they will take a toll on teeth just as much as they take a toll on a person’s waist. If your diet lacks certain nutrients, it may be more difficult to resist infection and easier to develop periodontal disease and cavities.
Eat This, Not That
As knowledge of the connection between oral and nutrition increases, it’s important to understand that if you consume a high acidic diet, with added sugars, your oral health may suffer and physically, you may feel sluggish. Now we aren’t asking you to transform your fridge completely, but it doesn’t hurt to make slight changes. Incorporating these foods into your family lifestyle will provide nutritional value and will impact your oral health and physical health in a positive way.
- Calcium-rich foods – Foods that are high in calcium, such as leafy greens, canned fish, almonds and plain yogurt, promote strong tooth enamel and strong bones. The American Dental Association advises the average adult to consume between 1,000 and 2,000 mg of calcium on a daily basis.
- Phosphorus – Phosphorus and calcium work together to keep teeth in place and maintain jaw density. In fact, children’s teeth need adequate calcium and phosphorus to form a hard structure during growth. Phosphorus foods include cereals, almonds and other nuts, as well as fish, eggs, grapes, citrus fruit, and cucumbers.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin D promotes gum health by reducing inflammation. Vitamin D also helps balance the body’s calcium and phosphorus to promote absorption. You can find this mineral in dairy products, eggs, and oily fish.
In addition to eating more mindfully, oral health problems can be avoided with proper oral care. You should brush your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, and consume water instead of sugary beverages, as water cleans the mouth with every sip.