Healthy teeth contribute to your overall wellness. You eat better, look better, and feel better with strong teeth. Having dental problems can also contribute to health problems. But did you know that there is a strong connection between eating healthy foods and healthy teeth? A poor diet, mixed with weak oral hygiene habits, can be a sure road to tooth decay and gum disease.
When you were young your parents might have told you about drinking plenty of milk for your teeth, but what have you learned since then? March is National Nutrition Month. Sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this educational campaign is designed to help people make more informed choices about what they eat. This year’s theme, “Go Further with Food” includes getting whiter and healthier teeth by thinking more about what you eat. So here are some tips and insights for food or drinks you can consume that will help keep your teeth healthy and your enamel strong.
Foods to Include and Avoid in Your “Dental Diet”
As with lifestyle or weight-control diets, there is no one specific dental health diet that is right for everyone. Use these tips, pay attention to following a health-based eating plan, and ask your professional dental health care team for more ideas on foods that keep your teeth healthy and strong.
- Foods that can hurt teeth: Some foods contribute to the build-up of plaque acids that can attack the enamel in your teeth. These are foods that high in sugar, starch, and carbohydrates. Foods that stick to the teeth can attract bacteria that can lead to enamel erosion. Limit the intake of citrus fruits, pickled foods, and hard or chewy candy. Some foods and drinks like coffee and wine can also stain the teeth and make them look less healthy.
- Foods that can help teeth: Although most foods do contain some type of sugar, many also contain other healthy ingredients to counter-balance its effects. Look for foods that are low in sugar and high in minerals, phosphorus, probiotics, vitamins C and D, and calcium. Hard, crunchy foods can serve as mini-toothbrushes, and also help produce higher levels of saliva to help neutralize the bacteria’s effects. Healthier choices for dental health include cheese, yogurt, leafy greens, apples, carrots, celery, and almonds.
- Help your children make smart food choices: Parents can help educate their children about the benefits of brushing and flossing, and they also set healthy examples by the foods they prepare and serve for family meals. While it is possible to control the food that goes on a dinner plate, it can be harder to monitor other sources of cavity-producing food and drinks that your children consume. This can be especially hard at high candy times like Easter and Halloween. Try to limit the candy intake or look for healthy alternatives that can still provide a treat. Keep in mind that many juices, sodas, and sports drinks are high in ingredients that can harm growing teeth, so educate your children about the benefits of staying hydrated with milk and water.
- Watch your brushing habits: We do recommend trying to brush after every meal, but with acidic foods, it is best to wait a half hour before brushing. To help protect your teeth until you can brush, drink some water after the meal and swirl it around in your mouth to remove any of the loose food particles.
National Nutrition Month is a great time to consider your family’s diet and oral health habits, so you can make great choices about what to eat for a healthy body and healthy teeth!
Williams & Daily Dental is a family and cosmetic dentist located in North Raleigh, NC with a team of dedicated dentists enthusiastic in their commitment to their patients. We offer dental implants, Invisalign teeth straightening, in-office and home teeth whitening options, and Oral-B electric toothbrushes. Contact Williams & Daily at (919) 846-9070 for more information and to schedule an appointment today.