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Eat Your Way to a Healthy Smile

Woman and child eating vegetables for healthy teeth.

Everyone knows that brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits contribute to excellent oral health. But could you be doing more to maintain healthy teeth and gums?

The answer is yes. Making smart food and beverage decisions not only contributes to overall health but can keep your smile strong and healthy.

Why Diet Affects Tooth Health

What you eat can affect your teeth in multiple ways. Some foods and drinks can contribute to tooth decay and weakness. However, other dietary choices can actually strengthen your teeth.

Foods to Avoid

Foods high in sugar feed bacteria in the mouth, leading to tooth decay and gum disease. It is important to be on the lookout for added sugars that can sneak into processed foods. This is why whole foods are always a better choice.

In addition, highly acidic foods such as citrus and tomato can eat away at the protective enamel surrounding our teeth. While these foods are okay in moderation, it is best to eat them as a part of a meal to lessen the effect of acid on your teeth.

Healthy Foods for Your Teeth

While the occasional indulgence should be fine, sticking to a healthy diet the majority of the time can help keep your teeth strong and free from decay.

Dairy Products

Milk, cheese, and yogurt are great options for strong teeth. These foods contain calcium and protein which are essential to building and maintaining tooth enamel. The American Dental Association even recommends milk after a meal as it can lower acid levels left on teeth.

As an added benefit, dairy products often contain beneficial probiotics and encourage salivation, which cleanses and protects teeth. Be careful to avoid options with high amounts of added sugar.

If you are allergic to dairy or lactose intolerant, don’t worry. Look for lactose-free milk or calcium-fortified nut milk which can have similar benefits.

Crunchy Veggies and Leafy Greens

Eating your vegetables can go a long way in promoting good health. Veggies, especially leafy greens, are filled with vitamins and minerals that strengthen teeth and promote gum health. Crunchy raw vegetables such as carrots and celery increase salivation and can help stimulate the gums. Here are some great options:

Fresh Fruits

Similar to crunchy veggies, crisp fruits like apples help stimulate gums and cleanse teeth. Watery options such as watermelon are another excellent way to satisfy your sweet tooth while increasing saliva production. Avoid dried fruits as they are concentrated with sugar and stick between teeth. Good choices include:

Lots of Water

Water is always a preferred beverage choice when it comes to your health. Not only does water wash away debris and prevent decay, but staying hydrated is essential to helping your body function at its best. Avoid sugary and acidic juices and sodas since they can contribute to enamel wear and tooth decay.  

Other Health Connections

Living a healthy lifestyle can have even more benefits for your teeth. For one, inflammation in the body can be linked to gum disease and lost teeth. Maintaining a healthy diet has been shown to decrease inflammation.

Similarly, people with type 2 diabetes have a higher incidence of gum disease and can have a more difficult time healing as well. Maintaining a healthy body weight and lifestyle can decrease your risk for type 2 diabetes or can help to control diabetes if you already have it.

Staying Healthy All Around

Your dental health and total health are interconnected. Diet plays a big role in keeping teeth and gums strong and free of disease and decay.

In addition to a good diet, make sure to keep up good dental hygiene habits like brushing twice a day and scheduling twice-a-year dental visits. If you have any questions about what makes for a good diet for your teeth, feel free to ask at your next appointment.

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