Eating healthy and focusing on proper nutrition can help you get the nutrients necessary for better overall health and wellness. As the holidays approach, it may be difficult to stick to your ideal diet. However, if your diet is low in the nutrients your body seeks, your dental health may noticeably suffer as your mouth has a more difficult time resisting infection. Periodontal disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults and has been found to progress much more quickly and become more severe in those lacking nutrient rich diets.
The basis for a balanced diet and good oral hygiene habits are typically formed in childhood. Well established eating habits which maintain healthy eating patterns and food choices in combination with proper dental hygiene early in life will set the stage for the better habits during adulthood. A focus on calcium, phosphorous, and fluoride levels are particularly important as they can help develop strong, decay resistant teeth early on.
A poor diet with a large amount of carbohydrates, sugars, and starches can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. These particular food choices contribute to the production of plaque acids that attack the tooth enamel and over time these acids can cause tooth enamel to break down and form cavities.
Almost all foods, including milk and vegetables, contain some type of sugar. However, many foods containing sugar are a necessary part of a healthy diet, because several of them also contain important nutrients. To help control the amount of sugar you consume, read food labels and choose foods and beverages that are low in added sugars. Added sugars are often present in soft drinks, candy, cookies and pastries.
When you do eat foods high in sugar or starch, it’s best to eat them as part of a whole meal rather than as a snack. When you eat a meal, saliva production increases and helps to rinse foods and acids from the mouth to prevent sticky situations which will later cause plaque.
No matter what time of year, it’s important to remember that keeping your teeth healthy depends on several factors. You already know you should floss once a day, brush your teeth at least twice a day, and see us regularly, but your diet also plays a role in the health of your teeth. Foods high in sugar are a particularly common cause of tooth decay and while you don’t need to avoid them completely, making them a treat rather than a staple will help protect your teeth and overall health for years to come.
To maintain a balanced diet and have a positive effect on your oral health, eat a variety of foods from each of the five major food groups, drink plenty of water, and limit the number of high sugar snacks you eat. If, and when you do snack, choose foods such as cheese, nuts, raw vegetables, or plain yogurt. Don’t forget to stay hydrated as this will help maintain a healthy saliva level to wash foods from the mouth and lessen the effects of acids.