From a very early age, we learn from our parents, doctors, teachers, and even advertisements that what we eat and drink plays a big role in how our bodies function. While it’s no secret that eating a balanced diet is an important part of maintaining total body health, did you know that what you choose to consume can also affect your oral health?
Here at Germantown Dental Group, we’re passionate about creating beautiful smiles for patients of all ages in Memphis and the Mid-South, including you and your family. Our team is committed to helping you improve the health of your teeth and gums through a variety of dental services, but a nutritious diet is also a vital part of that process.
To help you better understand how nutrition and oral health are linked, we’ve put together expert information on how your diet can protect your teeth – or negatively affect them. We’ve also included a few tips on what you can do to maintain a happy and healthy mouth. Let’s take a look below to learn more!
Nutrition: a building block for oral health
It turns out that nutrition can affect our oral health before we’re ever even born. When expectant mothers consume nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and protein, these help a baby’s teeth begin to form and mineralize properly. This is a process that continues throughout our lives! Our teeth will develop and mineralize throughout our teen years, and our oral tissues actually never stop recycling. That said, a variety of vitamins and minerals are needed in order to accomplish all of this successfully.
Good nutrition is not only a building block of oral health, it can also be an effective preventative measure. That’s because nutritional deficiencies can reduce your resistance to dental disease, while inhibiting your body’s ability to fight off certain kinds of infection. And while your diet can help prevent tooth decay and enamel erosion, the reverse is true as well. Human mouths are naturally hospitable to many different kinds of bacteria, and unfortunately, not all of them are helpful. In fact, many are harmful microorganisms that will thrive on any added sugar in your diet.
When this kind of bad bacteria begins processing ingested sugar, acids are produced that can eat into the enamel of your teeth. This sets the stage for cavities, gum disease, and loose or even lost teeth. When we encourage you to avoid consuming too much added sugar in your diet, this is just one of the reasons why!
A healthier diet can lead to a healthier mouth
Whole grains, vegetables, and fruit are often excellent sources of healthy vitamins and minerals, and starch-rich staples like bread, rice, and potatoes can be good for you, too. However, it’s important to keep in mind that even naturally occurring sugar can cause dental issues when it is consumed in large enough quantities, or not removed regularly through brushing and flossing. Remember: moderation is key when it comes to any kind of sugar, as is a regular dental hygiene routine.
Other smart choices that can give you a stronger smile and improve your oral health include:
Milk and other dairy products
It’s not like any of us need an actual excuse to eat more cheese, but dairy products (including milk and yogurt) can be excellent snacks since they’re full of calcium to keep bones and teeth healthy and strong.
Whole grain bread and pastas
Certain whole grains contain complex carbohydrates that give bad bacteria less digestible food to grow on. There also contain a number of different nutrients that can help your whole mouth stay healthy.
Chicken, red meat, and fatty fish
Protein is typically the star of the show when it comes to these foods, but they also contain phosphorus, a vital component when it comes to strengthening your teeth and protecting the tooth enamel.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
It may be a bit of a no-brainer, but eating a wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Leafy greens in particular can give your smile a boost since they contain high amounts of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and magnesium, all of which are instrumental in improving and maintaining oral health.
Soda, juice, and sports drinks are incredibly popular in America, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for us or our smiles! These beverages leave behind sugars that provide a veritable banquet for bad bacteria, resulting in acids that eat away at the enamel of the teeth. Sodas and juices also tend to contain phosphoric, citric, or malic acids that can exacerbate enamel erosion.
When it comes to quenching your thirst, you can’t beat a glass of plain old water! Water is beneficial to your body in so many ways, from washing away leftover food and debris to diluting the acids produced by harmful bacteria. Drinking more water can also help bring a dry mouth and bad breath under control, and goes a long way towards keeping your mouth clean and healthy, reducing the risk of cavities and even gum disease.
Find your best smile at Germantown Dental Group
Now that you know what you choose to eat and drink can have a big impact on your oral health, it’s up to you to help this process along by adopting a healthier diet. By paying a little extra attention to your nutrition and making smart choices about what you consume, you’ll give your smile an extra sparkle and improve your total body health, too!
Germantown Dental Group has an expert team in place to provide the treatment options and expert support you need to improve your dental health and give you a smile you can be proud of. If you’re in Memphis or the Mid-South and want to learn more about how good nutrition can improve your oral health, we’re here to help! Our talented team would love to meet you and work with you towards a healthier mouth, so give us a call today or click here to schedule an appointment with our Germantown office.