Nutrition goes hand in hand with oral health. It can affect the speed at which oral diseases may progress. Such diseases include caries, periodontal disease, erosion, cancer, ulcers, and dry mouth. For some people, good nutrition may not be a possibility due to age, specific medical conditions, or socioeconomic status. For example, senior patients who experience tooth loss, reduced chewing ability, and decreased appetite may find that their nutritional choices are limited.
Nutritional Choices for Good Oral Health
One of the best ways we can maintain good oral health is by taking a step back and reflecting on what types of food and beverages go into our mouths every day. Take a look at the tips below and adjust your lifestyle accordingly to maintain your own oral health.
Fruits & Vegetables
All fruits have sugar, but did you know that some are better for you than others? While still better for you than other sugary treats, fruits like pineapples, oranges, and grapes are high in sugar and can affect the health of your teeth if eaten regularly enough. Apples are a great source of fiber and even act as “nature’s toothbrush” while you eat one. A great nutritional choice for your teeth is vegetables, especially ones high in fiber, like carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. These vegetables can also act as “nature’s toothbrush.” Fruits and vegetables also contain many antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C, that help protect the gums from infection.
Acidic Beverages and Processed Sugar
Sugar attracts harmful bacteria. The bacteria consume the sugar and produce excess amounts of acid, which attacks your tooth enamel. Left unchecked, this can then lead to cavities and tooth decay. It’s recommended that you limit your intake of processed sugars such as candy and other sweet treats, as well as acidic beverages like coffee, juice concentrate, and soda. Acidic beverages not only create a breeding ground for bacteria and ultimately tooth decay and gum disease, but they are also the culprits behind unsightly staining on your teeth. Water is the healthiest option for your oral health. For example, hydration aids in saliva production, which is extremely important to help reduce infections in the mouth and throat. Saliva also helps protect your teeth and gums.
Brushing and Flossing
It is vital that you brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day to remove extra food particles and debris caught in between your teeth. If these particles and debris are left where they are, the conditions are perfectly set up for tooth decay to develop. However, after consuming something sugary or acidic, it is recommended that you wait 30 to 60 minutes before you brush. This is because the sugar and acid have softened the enamel on the surface of your teeth. You would actually be helping your teeth erode by brushing right after.
Visit Your Dentist
It’s important to visit your dentist twice a year. With special tools, your dentist is able to take a look at those hard to reach areas in your mouth that you might have missed with your toothbrush. Because of this, your dentist is able to see if there are any signs of an issue forming in your mouth. Early detection is the best way to treat a problem. At each of your visits, you will also get a professional cleaning done. Your dental technician will thoroughly clean and polish your teeth, even those hard to reach areas.
Nutrition and oral health are directly connected. Consider some of these tips and see where you can improve or change your nutritional habits to maintain your own good oral health.