Proper Nutrition for Your Mouth, Gums and Teeth!
It’s no secret that a healthy diet is crucial when it comes to staying fit and reducing the risks associated with many diseases and health conditions. Just as eating the right foods can help make the body stronger and more resistant to illness, they can also do the same for one’s teeth. By consuming the right kinds of healthy food, people are getting the nutrients that are needed to make teeth stronger. In addition, they are also reducing exposure to the food items that can weaken their teeth and make them more susceptible to the bacteria that forms plaque and the acids that are corrosive to enamel. Ideally, healthy eating should begin in childhood, however, even as adults, people can learn and adopt healthier habits that can preserve the life of their teeth and gums.
Basic Nutrition Needs
People can best protect their teeth when they understand the basics of nutrition, as it enables them to make smart, healthier, choices about the foods that they eat. The first thing to understand is that food has the ability to give people energy and make the tissues of their body strong courtesy of the nutrients that they contain. Proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fats are the different types of nutrients that can be found in food. In order to eat a healthy and nutritious diet, one must get the nutrients that they need. One way to do that is to eat a balanced diet that includes foods from the basic food groups. Per the American Heart Association, one should eat 5 servings of vegetables, 4 servings of fruit, 6 servings of grain, and 3 servings of dairy per day. Per week, people should try to eat 8 to 9 servings of poultry, meat and eggs, 5 servings of nuts and legumes, and 2 to 3 servings of seafood.
- Nutrition Basics
- Suggested Servings From Each Food Group
- Basics of Good Nutrition
- Healthy Living: Basics of Good Nutrition
- The Basic Principles of Healthy Eating (PDF)
Snacking can be a big problem when it comes to teeth and one’s health in general. Adopting smart habits and eating healthy foods can help fight plaque and keep one’s teeth in good condition. Ideally, people should avoid or limit snacking between meals, as it provides more opportunities for their teeth to come into contact with acids and sugars in food. When a person eats snacks they should avoid eating things that are sugary or high in carbohydrates. Examples of healthy snacks include fresh fruit, vegetables, such as celery sticks, cucumber slices, and cherry tomatoes are also healthy snack options. Additional snack foods from other food groups include low-fat cottage cheese, white meat chicken or turkey, sliced meat, or unbuttered popcorn.
- What to Feed Your Smile (PDF)
- Eat Better: Healthy Snacking
- Planning for Snacks
- Calcium and Healthy Snacking (PDF)
- Smart Snacks for Healthy Teeth
Diet and Tooth Decay
The type and amount of food that a person consumes is their diet. One’s diet can directly impact their oral health in a positive or negative way. A diet that is good for oral health is one that is balanced and meets basic nutrition needs. A healthy diet excludes foods that can deteriorate the state of a person’s teeth and includes healthy alternatives. Instead of sugary sodas, for example, one would drink water with or between meals.
- For the Dental Patient: Diet and Tooth Decay (PDF)
- Soft Drinks and Oral Health
- Nutrition and Good Oral Healthy
- Sugar is The Only Cause of Tooth Decay, Study Says
- Diet and Oral Health
Common Added Sugars
Added sugar is the sugar that is added to foods during processing or preparation. It has no nutritional value and is typically added to enhance flavor. The names of these added sugars are listed on the label. The higher up on the label the more of the sugar the item contains. Names of some common added sugars include high fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, and corn syrup. Fruit juice concentrate, fructose, and agave nectar are also common added sugars. Other names that one might find on the labels of their favorite food include sucrose, maltose, raw sugar, dextrose, malt syrup, brown sugar, cane sugar, and honey.
- Added Sugar in the Diet
- Added Sugars Fact Sheet (PDF)
- High Fructose Corn Syrup: A Guide for Consumers, Policymakers, and the Media (PDF)
- What Are Added Sugars
Foods That May Harm Dental Health
Eating certain foods is hazardous to one’s dental health and can result in plaque buildup, decay, and cavities. Sweets are most often associated with cavities, as are sticky foods. These types of food include candy, cookies, and cakes and should be consumed only in moderation, if at all. Potatoes, potato chips, and bread are all examples of starchy foods which should be avoided as well. In most cases, fruits are considered healthy; however, oranges, lemons, and grapefruit have a high level of acid that is corrosive to teeth.
- Women’s Health: Worst Foods For Your Teeth- Are Healthy Food Wrecking Your Teeth
- Sticky Foods Can Cause Tooth Decay
- Top Nine Foods That Damage Your Teeth
- Which Foods Cause Tooth Decay?
- Prevention: Twenty-Five Foods Dentists Won’t Eat
Foods That May Benefit Dental Health
While some foods are bad for the health of one’s teeth and gums, others are good and can even help strengthen them. Dairy food items such as milk, plain yogurt, and cheese are foods that one should eat for dental health. When one eats cheese after a meal, for example, it helps protect teeth by neutralizing acids that are lingering in the mouth. Consume fruits and vegetables regularly, particularly those that hard fiber-rich and hard. When eaten after meals, hard crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples or carrots can scrub and help clean teeth, which is helpful if one is unable to brush right away. Other vegetables such as kale and other leafy greens help support the structure of teeth. Other foods include salmon, which is rich in vitamin D as well as calcium.
- The Best and Worst Foods For Your Teeth
- Chew on This Oral Health Choices for Teens (PDF)
- Fourteen Surprising Foods For Brighter Smiles
- Foods For Healthy Teeth (PDF)
- Best and Worst Foods For Your Teeth (Slide-show)
Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Cavities
People can reduce their risk of cavities by taking daily steps to prevent the tooth decay that causes them. In addition to avoiding certain foods or reducing their consumption when possible, practicing good oral hygiene is a must. Good dental hygiene involves brushing one’s teeth twice daily with toothpaste that contains fluoride. People should also brush their teeth between meals after eating sweet or sticky foods. In addition to brushing, flossing is recommended daily as food and debris easily stick between teeth, resulting in a buildup of plaque. Cavities can also be reduced by drinking water that is fluoridated between meals. When drinking water, don’t automatically assume that it contains fluoride, however. Although most tap water is fluorinated, check the label on bottled water as it may not be. Fluorinated mouthwash can also be useful, particularly if one is at a high risk of developing cavities. People should also have routine oral exams and teeth cleanings with a dentist whose practice is part of a good dental support organization.
- Cavities Tooth Decay Prevention
- All About Cavities
- How We Can Help Teeth Win The Tug of War and Avoid A Cavity
- Prevention of Cavities
- Dental Cavities