Nutrition and oral health: 4 tips to eating for good teeth
Your eating habits affect your oral health directly. Balanced nutrition is the foundation for healthy gums and teeth. With insufficient or imbalanced nutrition, the teeth and gums become less resilient and more prone to the development of tooth decay and gum disease. That is why NEESH Dental’s oral hygeine and professional dental services in Saskatoon include education about all aspects of oral health, beginning with nutrition and diet. In this blog we cover the top 4 tips to eating for good oral health.
What happens on the surfaces of your teeth when you eat
The food you eat can affect your oral environment long after your meal. Your teeth are covered with a sticky film of bacteria and debris called plaque which is fed by sugar. When food residue is left to rest on and between the teeth after a meal, the plaque finds the sugar in food debris and converts it into acid that can irritate the gums (gingivitis), attack the tooth enamel and eventually lead to tooth decay or gum disease. Without regular daily brushing and flossing, plaque can also harden into calculus, which can only be removed by a professional oral hygienist during your twice annual dental cleaning and checkup.
Between regular dental appointments, you can reduce the buildup of plaque and calculus and simultaneously minimize damage to your teeth and gums from the foods and drinks you consume on a daily basis by integrating these 4 tips into habitual parts of your life:
- Avoid or limit cariogenic foods and drinks
Cariogenic foods are any foods that promote the development of caries, aka tooth decay. Some of the most cariogenic foods are processed foods high in carbs, sugars, starches or acids. Beware also of sweet beverages and sticky foods including chewy candies and dried fruits which really coat and stick to the teeth and gums. When these can’t be avoided, drink water to rinse food debris after consumption and brush as soon as possible afterward.
Cariogenic foods and drinks:
- Chips and crackers
- Cookies and cakes
- Sweet pastries
- White bread
- Breakfast cereals
- Sweetened granola bars
- Hard and chewy candy, dried fruit
- Ice cream, flavoured yogurts and milk products
- Sweetened soda, fruit juice
- Wine, beer
- Limit frequent snacking between meals
Your teeth do better with less frequent exposure to dietary sugars, starches, and acids. Keep that in mind the next time you’re bored and reaching for a snack between meals! Your teeth last longer and stay healthier when you avoid frequent snacking and stick to 2-3 meals per day with diligent brushing and flossing after meals. When you indulge in any sugary treat, combine it with your meal time for less risk to your oral health than indulging between meals.
- Eat as many whole and unprocessed foods as possible
It’s time for a visit to the Saskatoon Farmers Market! Remember, a balanced and nutritious diet full of fresh, unprocessed and low-sugar foods is the foundation for good oral health. Your teeth and gums need enough minerals and nutrients from your diet to protect themselves against the daily assaults of sugar, starch and acid. Vegetarians, vegans, or those with other serious allergies or dietary restrictions should consult with a dietitian to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need in their diet to support overall and oral health.
Dentist-recommended foods for your best teeth:
- Plain milk, plain yogurt
- Cheese and eggs
- Crunchy raw vegetables and leafy greens
- Nuts and seeds
- red meat, pork, fish, chicken
- Sugar-free gum
Adopt the habit of drinking water consistently throughout your day.
Not only does water keep all of the soft tissues in your body including your gums—hydrated and healthy, it also helps rinse food debris and sugar residue from around the teeth after eating a meal or snacking. It also helps support salivary flow to further reduce after-meal residue.
TIP: Keep a full pitcher of water at your work desk and kitchen table to encourage you to drink more. Find a special cup, glass, jar, bottle, or another receptacle that you like drinking from to encourage you to remember to want to drink more. Some people find using a glass with a straw helps them drink more water.
Dental care to prevent caries at our downtown Saskatoon dental clinic
An important part of keeping teeth and gums healthy is keeping them clean regardless of your diet. We recommend twice annual cleanings and exams for optimal oral health, or more if you maintain a highly cariogenic diet. Patients with questions about their diet as it relates to oral health nutrition and dental care are encouraged to contact our office for an appointment or an online consultation with Dr. Parviz Yazdani.