A healthy diet can do wonders for your dental health! Intaking plenty of calcium, vitamin C, and phosphorus-rich foods can strengthen teeth and prevent gum disease. Even staying hydrated can help prevent tooth decay!
How Can a Healthy Diet Improve Dental Health?
Ensuring you have a healthy and well-rounded diet is important in maintaining good oral health. Various nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C are essential for healthy teeth and gums.
Calcium is helpful for strengthening tooth enamel, which is the hard, protective outer layer of teeth. Phosphorus is also important for tooth enamel, as it works in conjunction with calcium to build strong teeth. Vitamin C is to the rescue if you want to prevent gum disease. It helps by supporting the growth of healthy gum tissue and reducing inflammation.
Sugar. Yep, we said it, and you know it. Sugar is not your mouth’s best friend when it comes to dental hygiene. Diets high in sugary or acidic foods and drinks can contribute to tooth decay and erosion of tooth enamel.
When sugar is consumed, it combines with bacteria in the mouth to produce acid, which can eat away at the tooth enamel and cause cavities. Acidic foods and drinks can also directly erode tooth enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay.
What to Eat for Healthy Teeth
Calcium is a mineral that is essential for building strong bones and teeth, something most of us have been hearing since we were kids. However, you may not know that calcium is especially important for maintaining strong tooth enamel. This is the hard outer layer that protects teeth from decay. When you consume calcium, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and transported to the teeth, which helps remineralize and strengthen tooth enamel.
Examples of calcium-rich foods include:
- Milk, cheese, and yogurt are excellent sources of calcium.
- Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens are good sources of calcium and other nutrients like vitamin C and iron.
- Tofu, which is made from soybeans, is a great source of calcium for those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet.
- Almonds, chia seeds, and sesame seeds are all high in calcium.
- Some types of fish, such as salmon and sardines, are good sources of calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, which are also beneficial for dental health.
Vitamin C-Rich Foods
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that plays a critical role in maintaining healthy gums. This is because it is involved in producing collagen, a protein that helps keep gums healthy and strong. Vitamin C also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation in the gums and prevent gum disease.
Examples of vitamin C-rich foods include:
- Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are all high in vitamin C.
- Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are also good sources of vitamin C and antioxidants that help protect against gum disease.
- One medium-sized kiwi provides over 100% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
- Broccoli, a cruciferous vegetable, is a good source of vitamin C and other important nutrients like calcium and phosphorus.
- Both green and red bell peppers are high in vitamin C, with red peppers containing more than green.
It is important to note that while vitamin C is important for dental health, consuming too much can be harmful. The recommended daily intake for adults is 65 to 90 milligrams per day, which can easily be achieved through a balanced diet.
Phosphorus and calcium work together to build strong tooth enamel. It helps by enhancing the absorption of calcium, which is essential for remineralizing and strengthening tooth enamel. While phosphorus is great for dental health, it also plays a critical role in maintaining strong bones and other tissues in the body.
Examples of phosphorus-rich foods include:
- Salmon, tuna, and shrimp are good sources of phosphorus and other important nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.
- Chicken and turkey are also high in phosphorus and other important nutrients like protein and vitamin B12.
- Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are high in calcium and a good source of phosphorus.
- Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread are all good sources of phosphorus, as well as fiber and other important nutrients.
- Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and nuts like almonds are all high in phosphorus and other important nutrients like healthy fats and protein.
Although phosphorus is an important part of any diet, intaking too much can have negative health effects. The recommended daily intake of phosphorus for adults is 700 milligrams per day.
Are you surprised at the fact that water is essential for good oral health and can help prevent tooth decay? When you drink water, it helps to wash away food particles and bacteria from the mouth.
Not drinking frequently enough can contribute to the buildup of plaque and tooth decay. Water also helps to keep the mouth hydrated, which is important for producing saliva.
Saliva plays a critical role in maintaining good oral health.
Having a good amount of saliva in your mouth helps to neutralize acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, which can cause tooth decay. When the mouth is dry, there is less saliva production, which can increase the risk of tooth decay.
In addition to its role in dental health, staying hydrated is important for overall health and well-being. Drinking enough water helps to regulate body temperature, transport nutrients throughout the body, and support healthy digestion.
To stay hydrated and maintain good oral health, it is recommended that adults drink at least 8 cups of water per day. This can be achieved through drinking water directly or consuming other beverages and foods that contain water, such as herbal tea, fruits, and vegetables. It is important to note that sugary or acidic beverages like soda and sports drinks should be limited, as they can contribute to tooth decay.
What to Avoid for Healthy Teeth
Sugary Foods and Drinks
Consuming sugary foods and drinks can contribute to tooth decay. When you consume sugar, the bacteria in your mouth break it down and produce acid as a byproduct. This acid can attack tooth enamel and remove minerals which may weaken the tooth structure and eventually lead to decay and cavities.
Examples of sugary foods and drinks to limit or avoid include:
- Hard and sticky candies, gummies, caramels, and other sugary treats are particularly damaging to tooth enamel.
- Soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, and fruit juices are all high in sugar that can hand out in the nooks and crannies of your teeth.
- Baked goods like cookies, cakes, and pastries are often high in sugar and can contribute to tooth decay.
- Many breakfast cereals are high in sugar; even those marketed as “healthy” or “low-fat” can harm tooth enamel.
- Flavored yogurt often contains added sugars.
While you do not need to completely eliminate sugary foods and drinks from your diet, it is important to consume them in moderation and take steps to protect your teeth. One way to minimize the impact of sugary foods and drinks is to consume them as part of a meal rather than as a snack.
Doing this can help minimize the amount of time sugar is in contact with your teeth. It is important to practice good oral hygiene habits, like brushing twice daily and flossing daily, to help remove plaque and bacteria from the mouth.
Acidic Foods and Drinks
Consuming too many acidic foods and drinks can erode tooth enamel over time, making teeth more susceptible to decay and sensitivity. When acidic foods and drinks are consumed, the acid can attack the tooth enamel and remove minerals, weakening the tooth structure. Over time, this can lead to tooth decay, cavities, and other dental problems.
Examples of acidic foods and drinks to limit or avoid include:
- Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are all highly acidic and can erode tooth enamel over time.
- Vinegar-based foods like pickles, salad dressings, and sauces are highly acidic and not good for tooth enamel.
- Carbonated beverages like soda and sports drinks are highly acidic and can cause damage to your teeth.
- Both red and white wine are highly acidic and can erode tooth enamel over time.
Like sugary foods, it is not necessary to completely eliminate acidic foods and drinks from your diet. However, you should make an effort to consume them in moderation.
One way to minimize the impact of acidic foods and drinks is to drink water or chew sugarless gum after consuming them. This can help to neutralize acid in the mouth and promote saliva production, which can help to remineralize tooth enamel. Waiting at least 30 minutes after consuming acidic foods and drinks before brushing your teeth is also helpful because brushing immediately after can actually further damage weakened enamel.
Incorporating healthy eating habits into your daily routine can benefit your overall health and improve your dental health. You can strengthen your teeth and prevent gum disease by consuming a diet rich in calcium, vitamin C, and phosphorus. You can also make an effort to limit your intake of acidic and sugary foods and drinks to help minimize the risk of tooth decay and cavities.