Eating Right for Dental Health: What to Consume and Avoid
Dental health starts in the...kitchen? You read that correctly! Of course, brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits are important, but they aren't the only things to consider when it comes to keeping your pearly whites in tiptop shape.
Most people understand that they should limit the sweets and candy they take in, but beyond sugary foods, what should and shouldn't you be consuming? Here are some do's and don'ts to help you eat right for your oral health.
The Do's of Eating for Dental Health
To promote good oral health, the majority of your diet should consist of the following foods:
- Fiber Rich Fruits and Vegetables – These scrub bacteria off teeth while stimulating saliva flow to neutralize acids that can damage teeth. Examples of fruits and vegetables you should eat are apples, carrots, celery, and other water-based options.
- Water – Water protects teeth and gums by stimulating the production of saliva, thereby reducing sugars and bacteria left on the teeth. Of course, water is a great alternative for soft drinks or other sugary beverages too.
- Dairy Products – Dairy products are absolutely a "do"! Calcium, phosphates, and vitamin D in dairy products help strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay.
- Nuts – Different nuts offer different oral health benefits. For example, peanuts provide calcium and vitamin D, whereas cashews stimulate saliva and help clean the teeth.
Keep in mind that even healthy foods may contain sugar, so it's always important to brush your teeth twice a day.
The Don'ts of Eating for Dental Health
Knowing what you shouldn't eat often is as important as knowing what you should. While some healthy eating don'ts are obvious, some aren't as well known:
- Candy and Sweets – Sticky sweets adhere to your teeth and can't be easily washed away by saliva. This can cause tooth decay, especially if you regularly snack on sweets between meals.
- Starchy Carbohydrates – Bacteria feed on the simple sugars that are left by starchy carbohydrates like chips, pasta, bread, or crackers. These bacteria produce acid, which can cause plaque buildup and tooth decay over time.
- Soft Drinks – Like sweets, most regular soft drinks are packed with sugar and even diet soft drinks contain harmful levels of phosphorous. This can wear down the enamel on your teeth and leave them susceptible to decay.
- Acidic Foods – Acids in citrus foods and even pickles can also wear down enamel.
- Dried Fruits and Juices – Both juices and dried fruits have highly concentrated levels of sugar that can cause problems similar to candy and sweets.
Eating Healthy for Your Teeth Means Eating in Moderation
You don't have to go to extremes. You can still enjoy many of the don'ts in moderation and if you brush directly after consuming them. Limiting the don'ts and focusing on the do's will not only give you a brighter smile, but also help to improve your overall health.