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Health & Disease Prevention, Nutrition

Nutrition and Dental Health

Nutrition and Dental Health

Daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing are essential to a healthy smile, but did you know nutrition has an effect on your dental health, too?

Foods that are acidic, sweet, or a simple carbohydrate can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. To control the amount of sugar you eat, read the nutrition facts and ingredient labels on foods and beverages and choose options that are lowest in sugar. Common sources of sugar in the diet include soft drinks, candy, cookies, cakes, muffins and pastries. The bacteria in your mouth feed off these sugars, releasing acids, leading to tooth decay. Nutritious, acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits can have acidic effects on tooth enamel, too, so eat them as part of a meal, not by themselves.

Sugar-rich drinks such as soda, lemonade, juice and sweetened coffee or tea—are particularly harmful because sipping them causes a constant sugar bath over teeth, promoting tooth decay. Water is always the most tooth-friendly beverage.

Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups promotes healthy teeth and gums. A balanced eating plan that includes fruits, vegetables, protein foods, grains and dairy provides essential nutrients for optimum oral health as well as overall health.

So, which foods are best for teeth and gum health?

Some of the best foods for healthy teeth are fresh fruits and veggies because of their high nutritional value and added teeth cleaning benefits. Chewing on crunchy foods gets the saliva going, which along with water, helps to wash away plaque causing bacteria and food particles. Other healthy foods to promote good dental health include:

· Calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese, and fortified soymilk help promote strong teeth and bones. Other sources of calcium include tofu (made with calcium sulfate), canned salmon, almonds and some dark green leafy vegetables.

· Phosphorus, a mineral found in eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts and beans is good for strong teeth.

· Vitamin C promotes gum health, so eat plenty of sources, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes and spinach.

And it is not just about the nutrients, the texture of the food you eat can also impact your oral health. Corn nuts, candies, sunflower seeds, popcorn kernels can all increase the risk of tooth fracture. Chewing ice can put excessive forces on the teeth leading to an increased risk of tooth fracture as well.

For good dental health, always remember to brush twice a day, floss daily and visit your dentist regularly. And remember food choices can make a difference in your oral health. Ensure you pack your diet with vegetables, low- or no-sugar-added dairy products, fruits, lean proteins, and plenty of water is an excellent way to prevent tooth decay and promote oral health.