Dr. Linda Raskansky
Your body is a complex machine. The foods you choose and how often you eat them can affect your general health and the health of your teeth and gums, too. Regular consumption of sugar-filled sodas, sweetened fruit drinks or non-nutritious snacks, can increase the risk for tooth decay. Tooth decay happens when plaque come into contact with sugar in the mouth, causing acid to attack the teeth.
Foods that contain sugars of any kind can contribute to tooth decay. To control the amount of sugar you eat, read the nutritional and ingredient labels on foods and beverages and choose options that are lowest in sugar. Common sources of sugar in the diet include soft drinks, candy, cookies and pastries. Fruit and other foods that contain a high number of carbohydrates are also a factor as they too break down into sugars. If your diet lacks certain nutrients, it may be more difficult for tissues in your mouth to resist infection. This may contribute to gum disease. Chronic gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Many researchers believe that the disease progresses faster and is potentially more severe in people with poor nutrition.
For healthy living and for healthy teeth and gums, it important to consider what we put in our bodies. It’s not only what we eat but when we eat that can affect dental health. Eating a balanced diet and limiting between-meal sugary and acidic snacks are two ways to improve dental health.
Some tips to keep in mind when choosing your meals and snacks:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat a variety of foods from each of the five major food groups, including:
- Whole grains
- Lean sources of protein
- Dairy foods
It’s important to read labels and consider the sugar content of foods. Consulting with a nutritionist can help create a eating plan that is specific and beneficial for general health. Limit the number of snacks you eat. If you do snack, choose something that is healthy like low glycemic fruits, vegetables or nuts.
Foods that are eaten as part of a meal cause less harm to teeth than eating lots of snacks throughout the day, because more saliva is released during a meal. Saliva helps wash foods from the mouth and lessens the effects of acids, which can harm teeth and cause cavities.For good dental health, always remember to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and visit your dentist regularly. Regularly dental visits can help prevent oral problems from occurring in the first place and catch those that do occur in the early stages, while they are easy to treat.