The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has deemed March National Nutrition Month, a campaign that focuses on teaching us how to make the proper food choices for optimum health. The Academy and its members are viewed as the most credible and valuable source of scientifically-based nutrition information.
While regular brushing and flossing is essential to maintaining healthy teeth and gums, did you know that your nutrition also has a big effect on your dental health, too?
Eating Right for Oral Health
Your mouth may have a more difficult time resisting cavities if you do not eat a balanced diet. Periodontal disease, a major cause of tooth loss in adults, can be more severe and progress faster if you have a nutrient-poor diet. Foods rich in calcium and phosphorus help build strong teeth, and vitamin C is beneficial for the health of your gums. Here are some teeth-friendly foods that, made part of your regular diet, will help prevent decay:
- Low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Soy drinks
- Canned salmon
- Lean meat
- Citrus fruits
Foods to Limit or Avoid
Foods high in starches, sugars, and carbohydrates cause a higher production of plaque than other foods. Plaque attacks your tooth enamel and can eventually lead to the formation of cavities. When you eat these types of foods, it is important to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with water afterwards:
- Candy, especially chewy, sour candy, because it contains acids that wear away at your enamel and it sticks to your teeth.
- White bread is broken down into a sugar-filled, gummy paste that sticks to your teeth when you chew it. Eat less refined varieties such as wheat bread.
- Alcohol is drying and you need your saliva to keep your teeth healthy, because it washes away food particles.
- A recent study has shown that soda can be just as damaging to your teeth as methamphetamine or crack cocaine, even diet soda.
- Chewing on ice can damage your enamel or even crack or chip your teeth making them more susceptible to cavities.
- Potato chips are high in starch which contributes to plaque formation.
- Dried fruit also sticks to your teeth.
Use these as guidelines for better dental health during the rest of National Nutrition Month. Practicing these eating habits for a month will make it easier to incorporate them into your life going forward. You can also go over the best foods for your teeth at your next dental appointment.