Nutrition Tips for a Healthier Mouth & Smile
The food you eat affects your wellbeing, including the health of your teeth and gums. Let’s take a closer look at what this means and how you can improve your dental health by eating healthier, more tooth-happy meals.
The role food plays on your teeth & gums
During a meal or when drinking, bits of food get caught in between and coat the surface of your teeth. Left alone for even a short period of time, the acidity and sugar in these items can be harmful, leading to enamel erosion, decay, and cavities.
Although regular brushing and flossing can offset the negative effects of food caught in your teeth, it can’t fully reduce the risks of an unhealthy diet. For instance, drinking too much alcohol can lead to dry mouth and gum disease, and a diet of sugary, starchy foods can lower your immune system, making it easier for bacteria to thrive (as well as increase your risk of developing cavities!).
On the other hand, many foods contain nutrients very important for maintaining tooth structure and keeping your teeth, gums, and body happy and healthy. Eating a diet that’s rich in tooth-healthy vitamins and minerals and low in bacteria-friendly ingredients is the best way to protect your smile.
Remember: Your mouth is connected to your whole body health. When you don’t take care of your teeth, you risk more than a perfect smile. There are several health problems connected to oral health issues, such as...
Taking care of your teeth is part of taking care of your whole body.
What foods to avoid
|The worst kind of foods for your mouth are...||Why are they problematic?|
|Highly acidic||Acidic foods damage tooth enamel, which dissolve your teeth and lead to cavities|
|Filled with sugar||Sugar fuels the bacteria living in your mouth, which causes decay|
|Sticky & chewy (especially candy and dried fruit)||These types of foods stick to your teeth, providing a long-term source for bacteria and contributing to gum disease|
|Starchy||Everyone loves bread, but starchy foods like white bread are filled with sugar and will spur the growth of bacteria and cavities|
|Extremely hard||Munching down too hard on a hard food can cause you to crack or break a tooth!|
So which foods are the worst offenders? Take a look at the list below for a few foods which can cause big problems for your teeth.
Soda and carbonated drinks (sugary and acidic)
Candy (sugary, sticky, hard)
Dried fruit (sugary, sticky, not as healthy as people think)
Citrus fruit juices, including lemon juice and canned fruit (sugary and acidic)
Sweetened coffee drinks (sugary, acidic)
White bread (sugary and sticky)
Just can’t stay away from these foods? Try eating them at meal times only.
When you snack on these items throughout the day, your saliva doesn’t have enough time to help mitigate the negative effects of these foods. Plus, you’re less likely to brush your teeth right after a snack, giving these foods more time to sit in your mouth and be destructive.
8 nutrients your teeth love
There are 8 standout nutrients important for your dental health:
Vitamins A, B, C, D
These vitamins and minerals help maintain your tooth structure, support your immune function, limit bacteria, and overall help you stay healthy.
Take a look at the table below for a few of the great foods that are full of these great nutrients.
|Leafy greens||Spinach, kale, romaine||Rich in calcium, folic acid, and vitamins|
|Crunchy fruit & veggies||Celery, cucumbers, apples, and carrots||High in fiber and great for naturally scrubbing teeth|
|Berries||Strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries||Very high in antioxidants|
|Naturally spicy foods||Garlic and onion||Filled with antibacterial properties|
|Dairy products||Yogurt, milk, and cheese||Packed with calcium and probiotics|
|Whole grains (complex carbs)||Brown rice, quinoa, teff, and millet||Full of vitamins and less digestible for bacteria|
|Meat & soy||Fish, tofu, chicken, shrimp||Vitamin D, omega 3, protein|
|Nuts||Almonds, cashews, and walnuts||Filled with calcium and phosphorous, good fats, and fiber|
Bonus: 3 days of teeth-friendly meal ideas
Now that you understand the types of foods that are harmful for your teeth and those that your mouth and body love, it’s time to put it all together and create mouth-healthy meals.
Need a little inspiration to get started? Keep reading for a list of healthy meal ideas for three days.
Breakfast: Yogurt with fresh fruit, such as berries and apples
Lunch: Reuben or tuna sandwich on whole grain bread
Dinner: Garlic salmon with steamed green beans and brown rice
Breakfast: Whole grain toast with egg and avocado
Lunch: Spinach salad with walnuts and goat cheese
Dinner: Whole-wheat pasta with with shiitake mushrooms, garlic, and grilled chicken
Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries and nuts
Lunch: Vegetable and quinoa stew
Dinner: Spicy shrimp tacos
Healthy snack ideas
Like I mentioned earlier in this article, snacking throughout the day is dangerous for your teeth. However, sometimes we all just need a little snack to make it through to the next meal time.
So when you need a little buffer between meals, reach for foods that your teeth will love.
Here are some of my favorite teeth-friendly munchies:
Celery or apple with natural peanut butter or almond butter
Carrots or cucumbers with hummus
Nut trail mix
Berry and yogurt smoothies
Cheddar cheese sticks
Green and black tea
Between meals: brush, floss, and visit your dentist
No matter what kinds of foods you eat, it’s important to brush and floss your teeth regularly and schedule twice a year cleanings with your dentist. Taking this whole-body approach to your dental health will give you the best results.
If it’s been a while since your last dental checkup, don’t wait. Our entire team here at Batchelor Dentistry would love to help you take control of your dental health. We’re happy to answer all your questions about taking care of your teeth — including eating foods that help, not hurt, your mouth.
Give us a call at (540) 432-9992 or contact our office online.