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How Nutrition Affects Oral Health

June 15, 2019

Nutrition affects your entire body from the inside out. If you’re not eating and drinking the right things on a regular basis, then you’ll be more susceptible to disease and dental problems. Changing your daily diet and oral hygiene habits will improve your overall health and well-being. Here are a few simple steps you can take toward a more nutritious lifestyle that will result in healthier teeth and gums.

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Parents around the world tell their kids to eat their fruits and vegetables for good reason. These fresh food items are full of nutrients like vitamins and minerals that are essential for a healthy body. They also have a good amount of water and fibre to balance out the natural sugars they contain. Chewing raw fruits and vegetables, especially crunchy ones, stimulates saliva production to wash away acids and food particles. These things can harm teeth if they stick around for too long in the mouth.

Some fruits and vegetables pack a bigger nutritional punch than others, so you may wonder how to make the best choices. If you eat a colourful variety, then you don’t need to worry, your body will receive plenty of nutrients. Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are a wonderful choice. They are rich in vitamin C and calcium, which helps to reduce inflammation and battle gum disease. Calcium also strengthens tooth enamel and bones. Eat greens in a fresh salad, add them to sandwiches, or blend them into soups or smoothies.

Sweet potatoes, broccoli, onions, peppers, and butternut squash are great choices, as well shiitake mushrooms. These mushrooms are a super food that contain lentinan, an antibacterial compound that prevents bacterial growth and fights against plaque buildup. They are often found in Asian cuisine and can be eaten raw or cooked.

Citrus fruits and berries also have good amounts of vitamin C and calcium. Just be sure you don’t overdo it with fruit, even though the sugar in them is natural, it’s still sugar.

Reduce Sugar Intake

Sugar is one of the top causes of dental problems. Bacteria in your mouth feeds off sugar and causes dental decay and painful cavities. Canadians consume an average of 40 kg of sugar every year. For the health of your teeth and body, it’s important to reduce your sugar intake wherever you can. Read nutrition labels so you’re more aware of the sugar you consume, and watch out for different types of added sugars such as syrups, honey, and molasses.

When snacking, try to choose wholesome, sugar-free snacks. Sticky sweets are also some of the worst things for your teeth. Treats like gummy fruit snacks and chewy candies get stuck in the grooves of your teeth and can stay there for hours, eating away at your enamel. If you choose to eat sweets, then plan to do so with a regular meal. The increased flow of saliva at mealtimes helps to dilute and wash away sugars. Chewing fibrous vegetables and sugar-free gum also helps to clean the mouth until you can brush your teeth.

Drink Plenty of Water

Another way to lower your sugar intake and improve your health is to think about what you drink. An easy way to quickly change your drinking habits is to reduce or replace sugar-sweetened soft drinks, coffees, juices, and teas. Natural sugar substitutes and no sugar added juices are better choices, but water is the best choice, especially if it’s fortified with fluoride.

Along with proper brushing and flossing habits, fluoridated water helps to maintain your oral health by making teeth more resistant to acid attacks that cause cavities. Drinking plenty of water also helps to flush the mouth, which reduces bacteria, acid, and food particles on your teeth and gums between the times you brush.

Include Protein and Dairy

Lean proteins that are rich in phosphorus help to strengthen teeth. Meat, poultry, fish, milk, and eggs are all considered good proteins to consume. Dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese are high in calcium. They contain a protein called casein that helps to neutralize acids produced by bacteria in your mouth. Just be sure to check dairy labels for added sugars and choose low-sugar or sugar-free options. Nuts, beans, and seeds are other top protein choices that have healthy fibre and vital minerals as well.

We all want to be able to live life to the fullest with the best health possible. Dental issues can get in the way by causing pain, discomfort, or embarrassment. Think of your mouth as the gateway to your body and don’t underestimate how it affects your entire self. With excellent nutrition, you can improve your oral and overall health. If you follow a healthy diet, practice good oral hygiene, and visit the dentist regularly, then you’ll be well on your way to living your best life. If you have any dental concerns, don’t delay, and address them with your dentist today.

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