optimum oral health

It is widely known that there is a two-way relationship between oral health, nutrition, and diet. Brushing twice daily, flossing once daily, and gargling is essential for healthy teeth. Also, it is important not to forget and be aware of the nutritional values of the food you eat and make sure to plan your diet to include food that promotes healthy teeth and gums. Your oral health is a culmination of several components including the teeth, jaws, gums, tongue, oral tissues and muscles. It is important to understand that your oral health is a major contributing factor in the absorption of nutrients from the diet you consume and also, the food you eat contributes to your oral health. Dr. Slavkin (Director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research) stresses on the need for dentists to improve their patients’ overall health by urging them to eat healthily and be aware of all the nutrients required for optimum oral health. This article will provide a comprehensive account of the effects of your diet on oral health and how you must plan your food choices and eating habits to ensure optimal oral health.

1. Holistic Diet

Diet consists of the types of food you consume on a daily basis. A nutritious diet is one that fulfills the body’s dietary needs. The body needs micro-nutrients (vitamins, minerals) and macronutrients (carbs, healthy fats, and lean protein). The main dietary factors which contribute to oral health are vitamins, pH properties of the mouth, micro, and macronutrients. A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, calcium-rich foods, lean proteins, and unprocessed carbohydrates (whole grains) provide all the essential nutrients required for optimum oral health and overall health. Vitamin C promotes healthy gums, it can be found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and spinach. Phosphorous is also very important for oral health. It can be obtained from eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts, and soybeans.

It is no mystery that calciumand Vitamin D is essential for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Lack of Calcium can be harmful to bones, teeth, and jaws among other health issues. The jawbone acts as an anchor for the teeth and any damage to it increases the chances of teeth loss. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for oral health as it helps absorb calcium. The three main sources of attaining Vitamin D are through the skin, through supplements, and from your daily diet. Vitamin D rich foods include egg yolks, saltwater fish and liver.

2. Smart Snacking

Snacking between meals is a guilty pleasure we rarely give much thought to. But the more often you eat, especially between meals you are likely to introduce acid attacks to your teeth. We know it is really difficult but it is best to resist the urge to snack frequently, condition yourself to drink water every time you want to mindlessly munch something. We know that sugary treats are linked to the development of cavities so it is imperative to completely avoid sugary snacks such as sticky candy. Always remember to brush after snacking and choose your snacks wisely. There are many teeth-friendly snacks available such as plain yogurt, fruits, vegetables, etc.  


3. What to avoid or eat in moderation

The nature of the food you consume also affects your teeth. Solid food takes a longer time to be cleared from the mouth than liquid because you chew solid food thus the teeth are exposed to it longer and it runs a higher risk of forming plaques. Sticky food such as honey, molasses, and dry fruits has high chances of causing tooth erosion and decay because they are slow to dissolve and take longer to chew. The stickier the food the longer it will stick to your teeth because it is difficult for saliva to break it down. Indulge in sugary foods such as sweets, biscuits, and cakes sparingly. Not just these but also avoid sugary drinks, store-bought salad dressings, condiments, cereals, or tomato sauce. Check the food labels for sugar content and immediately brush and floss after consuming such foods.

Acidic foods and beverages speed up tooth decay by eroding the enamel, such foods include alcoholic beverages, carbonated soft drinks, potato chips, deep-fried food, coffee, etc. Certain medical conditions such as acid reflux can also increase the risk of cavities. Citrus fruits are a class of acidic foods that are beneficial for you but be careful to eat them with a meal and not by themselves.

4. Importance of Dairy and Dairy Products

Dairy makes up one of the core food groups. Milk and cheese, when consumed in moderation, can help prevent food decay by protecting the enamel. For lactose-intolerant people, there is plain yogurt and curd which have as much nutritional value as milk and cheese. Dairy products are a treasure trove of essential carbohydrates, proteins, vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin; minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and phosphorous all of which contribute heavily towards oral health.

5. General Considerations

When you visit your dentist for daily check-ups always remember to discuss your dietary habits and pre-existing conditions with them. Plan your meals beforehand including your snacks, make healthy choices. When eating out read the menu carefully to make sure you know about any excess sugar or acid which might harm your teeth. Stick to low-calorie non-alcoholic beverages and children should only be allowed water or milk. Maintain dental hygiene daily and rely on home-cooked meals.


Related blog: Healthy Teeth: Myths Vs Facts

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