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Posted on: February 27, 2023
The Role of Diet in Oral Health
Good oral health is so much more than brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist in Palm Coast twice a year. Nearly everything you do that affects your overall health also affects your teeth. One area where this is abundantly clear is your diet. Good nutrition actually plays a starring role in the health of your teeth and gums.
Since your oral health is our primary concern, we want to make sure you have the information you need to make good choices. Some may feel obvious, such as limiting sugar, eating plenty of vegetables, and drinking lots of water, which are always important.
Here’s how what you eat and drink affects your dental health.
How frequently you eat has an impact on your teeth and gums. Many experts recommend a pattern of three meals a day with two healthy snacks. When you eat outside of this recommendation and snack frequently throughout the day—especially on foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugar—you can create a problem.
The sugar in your food mixes with saliva and bacteria to create a sticky substance we call plaque. Plaque clings to your teeth and creates an acid that is harmful to your dental health. This process lasts about twenty minutes. When you eat or drink frequently throughout the day, however, this process is triggered over and over again, increasing your risk for cavities.
2. Vitamins and Minerals
Often when we’re discussing diet, the conversation is centered around what type of food to avoid. We want to mix things up a bit though and talk about what types of food you should be incorporating into your diet more frequently!
Certain vitamins and minerals found in foods are critical for healthy teeth, and we encourage you to add them to your diet. For instance, calcium and phosphate help strengthen and protect your teeth by restoring your dental enamel. You can find calcium in foods like milk, cheese, and leafy greens, while phosphate is often found in meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.
Including vitamin D in your diet helps your body absorb calcium while also lowering your risk of gum disease. You can find vitamin D in mushrooms, egg yolk, and tuna. Plus, many foods containing calcium are also fortified with vitamin D to improve absorption. Remember, teeth are bones and these vitamin and mineral recommendations will help you keep your bones healthy too.
3. Fruits and Vegetables
Produce is an absolute necessity for your overall health—packed with water and fiber as well as an array of micronutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and folate, fruits and vegetables help you feel full and keep your body running as it should.
They’re also important for managing the balance of sugars in your mouth, and they even act like a natural toothbrush, helping to keep your teeth clean. By stimulating saliva production, they help keep wash away damaging acids that can lead to decay.
The vitamin C found in fruits like oranges and vegetables like yellow peppers helps heal gums and prevent periodontitis (gum disease). Meanwhile, vitamin A, found in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables such as melons, carrots, and sweet potatoes, helps build strong and healthy enamel.
Water is essential for your body’s proper function—especially fluoridated water. While bottled water is convenient, naturally occurring fluoride is often filtered out. Many municipalities add fluoride to their tap water, so it’s a better choice to fill a water bottle at your tap and keep that on hand (it’s a lot cheaper too—and better for the environment!).
Your dentist in Palm Coast will discuss your fluoride needs with you and can let you know if the water in your area is fluoridated. If it’s not, your dentist will provide you with additional tips for getting this important mineral. Fluoride helps keep your enamel strong and prevents tooth decay.
In addition to the bonus of fluoride in water, just drinking water is good for your teeth. Plain, unflavored water helps flush your mouth, removing bacteria and acid, and also helps prevent dry mouth.
Sparkling water brands are popular, and we get a lot of questions about them at our dental office in Palm Coast. While plain water is slightly a better choice, there’s nothing harmful about sparkling water in moderation. Even though it’s slightly acidic, sparkling water is still a better choice than soda or other sugary beverages.
Keep in mind that all sparkling waters are not created equal. Double check the label to make sure there’s no added sugar or citric acid for flavor since those ingredients can be damaging to your teeth.
Your dental health is an important aspect of your overall health. When your teeth are unhealthy, it affects the rest of your body—and vice versa. Research has shown the connection between oral health and overall health, which is known as the “oral-systemic connection.” In fact, oral health is often considered a window to a person’s overall health. Many systemic health conditions have a direct effect on your dental health, and your dental health can also impact your overall health, especially when it comes to conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Making good nutritional choices helps your teeth and gums stay healthier while also helping keep your other bodily systems functioning as they should. Your dentist is always happy to discuss your habits with you, from brushing and flossing to snacking and drinking water, as well as look for ways to help you improve your dental and overall health.
Regular visits to our dental office in Palm Coast are also an essential part of staying healthy, so schedule your next visit today. We’re always glad to see you and help you have the healthy, happy smile you deserve.