Good nutrition doesn’t just promote good health. It also promotes strong and healthy teeth. What you eat, and when you eat, play an important role in preventing tooth decay. Researchers have found that if your diet lacks certain nutrients, it may be more difficult for tissues in your mouth to resist infection that leads to gum disease.1 It begins with knowing what you should eat.
What is a good oral health diet for the New Year?
A general rule of thumb is that if a food is good for your waistline, helping you stay at your ideal weight, it is probably good for your teeth. Foods that contain sugars of any kind promote tooth decay.2 So, if you want to safeguard your teeth you should avoid cookies, candies, cakes and other sugar-laden items. You can also add to this list sugary drinks such as soda and juices. Even cough drops can play havoc with your teeth, as they contain sugar to make them taste good.
To protect tooth enamel, eat foods that are rich in calcium and phosphorus, two nutrients that actually re-deposit minerals on your tooth enamel to strengthen your teeth. Foods rich in calcium and/or phosphorus include chicken or other meats, nuts, and green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach.3 Dark green leafy vegetables, which are a frequent star on every “good eating list” are good sources of calcium and usually contain some phosphorus. Boiled spinach is the real star here, containing 291mg of calcium and 101mg of phosphorus per cup.4 Kale, broccoli, Chinese cabbage and turnip greens are all high in calcium and contain moderate amounts of phosphorus.5 Many types of fish, including halibut, salmon and sardines, are rich in both calcium and phosphorus.6 Tuna doesn’t contain much calcium, but it does contain a lot of phosphorus. Dairy products including milk, cheese, and yogurt are all very high in both calcium and phosphorus, as are pumpkin and sunflower seeds.7 Other items that pack both a calcium and phosphorus combination are legumes, such as black beans and navy beans, and soybeans.
At snack time turn to firm and crunchy fruits like apples and pears. They have a high water content which dilutes the effects of the sugars in the mouth. That water content also stimulates the flow of saliva which washes away food particles and acid.8 Of course, vegetables are also a good choice for snack time, as is chewing gum, which actually captures food particles stuck on your teeth and increases saliva flow, diluting mouth acids.
If you are going to eat citrus fruits, tomatoes and lemons to protect your teeth they need to be eaten as part of a larger meal to reduce the acids they contain.9 Foods that take a long time to chew or that you hold in your mouth (such as cough drops) can damage teeth because they keep sugar in your mouth longer.10 One of the worst things you can do for your teeth is to sip on a sugary beverage repeatedly throughout the day or to snack on sugar-laden treats throughout the day. If you want to indulge in a sugary treat, eat these foods at mealtime to cut down how long your teeth are exposed to acid. Another plus of eating sugary items at mealtime is that when you eat a big meal, your body produces more saliva which washes away the acid in your mouth.
By eating the right foods and drinking healthy beverages, like water, you can significantly improve your oral health, as well as your overall health. That is a New Year’s resolution that we can all benefit from making.
Start the New Year with continuing to take proper care of your teeth and mouth. Regular dental checkups and a healthy lifestyle are a no brainer. Sedki Dentistry Commerce MI is a full service dental office that can help you achieve and maintain a healthy mouth for life. Offering all the latest in dental treatments and technology, Dr. Sedki and his staff are committed to providing the best possible dental care available. We address and provide services for all dental health concerns with a commitment to uncompromised care to our patients. Call Sedki Dentistry today to learn more!
1, 2, 3 Diet and Dental Health, MouthHealthy.org, The American Dental Association
4, 5, 6, 7 Foods Rich in Calcium & Phosphorus, Marie Mulrooney, www.livestrong.com,
8, 9 Diet and Oral Health, www.webmd.com, Alfred D. Wyatt, Jr., DMD, 1/23/2017
10 What to Eat to Keep Your Teeth, Delta Dental, 5/2018