The Great Lakes Dental team

Nutrition and Dental Health

You've heard the saying: You are what you eat. Another way to put it might be that your teeth and gums are what you eat. Your diet does more than influence the number on the scale. It can also lead to oral health problems, such as gum disease and cavities. A healthy diet can help protect your teeth from decay and keep your gums healthy. 

 Here's how to improve your nutrition and dental health, so you can avoid a visit to an emergency dentist or extensive dental work. 

How Are Nutrition and Dental Health Connected?

To have a healthy smile, you need to have a healthy diet. The nutrients you get from certain foods, such as vegetables and fruits, can help improve blood flow to the gums and protect against gum disease by reducing inflammation. Your teeth need certain minerals, notably calcium, to stay strong. 

Healthy teeth and gums allow you to get the nutrition you need, so nutrition and dental health is a two-way street. When you're missing teeth or have severe tooth decay, it can be difficult to eat a balanced diet, which can hurt your overall health.

Foods That Hurt Your Dental Health

What's one of the worst things you can eat for your dental health? Sugar! When sugar builds up on your teeth, the bacteria on the teeth's surface start eating it. As the bacteria eat the sugar, it produces acids, which wear away your enamel, leading to cavities.

Sugary drinks, including soda, sweetened iced teas and juices, tend to have the worst effect on your teeth. Sticky candies and other sweets can also increase your risk of cavities. 

As with everything, the amount of sugar you eat affects your risk. You don't have to say no to cake at a birthday or never drink a soda again. But if you're getting more than 10% of your daily calories from added sugars, cutting back is a good idea.

Certain foods also increase your risk for dental erosion, which is the wearing away of your enamel. Sodas are a leading cause of tooth erosion, as are other foods that are high in acids.  

When you eat also affects your dental health. If you're a snacker or grazer who eats throughout the day, your teeth see a continual stream of sugar and acids, which can lead to more decay. Try limiting your eating to mealtimes or cutting back your snacks to once or twice daily.  

Foods That Help Your Dental Health 

Some foods can help improve the health of your teeth and gums. Fruits and vegetables can help you smile by giving you the nutrients you need to fight inflammation and promote healthy gum tissues. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can also help your smile look more youthful by protecting the gums.

Foods that are reach in calcium are tooth-healthy. Cheese, yogurt and milk are all excellent sources of calcium that can protect your teeth's enamel. If you don't eat dairy products, leafy green vegetables and almonds are two plant-based calcium sources.

Phosphorus is another mineral that helps your enamel. You can find it in protein sources including fish, poultry and beef. Eggs and milk are also good phosphorous sources.

Regarding beverages, water is the best choice for dental health. It doesn't contribute to decay and contains no extra calories or sugar. If you drink tap water, it may also contain fluoride, which can strengthen and protect your enamel, reducing the risk of cavities. 

Improve Your Nutrition and Dental Health at Home

You can protect your dental health at home, by improving your nutrition and taking care of your teeth. Brush your teeth after eating to remove plaque and sugar from the surface. Floss between the teeth to remove any bits of food that might get stuck there. Schedule a routine dental cleaning with your dentist to monitor the health of your gums and teeth.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you have difficulty remembering to drink water, get a reusable water bottle and keep it with you throughout the day. At meal times, fill up a glass of water and sip it throughout your meal. If you find plain tap water boring, drinking sparkling water occasionally is okay. Just make sure to avoid any sparkling waters that also contain added sugars. 

Get out of the habit of snacking if you can. You may want to plan your meals, so you always have something ready to go, even if you're tired or don't feel like cooking.

Schedule a Dental Checkup With Your Dentist in Mentor Ohio

Dental health isn't confined to your mouth. At Great Lakes Dental, we understand that your overall health and diet connect to your oral health. Our dental services protect the health of your teeth and gums and can improve the appearance of your smile. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.