The health of your teeth and gums is not only crucial for a beautiful smile, but it can also be indicative of overall well-being. It’s no secret that what you eat affects your oral health, even though this connection isn’t always evident at first glance. To better understand the correlation between diet and oral health, explore the four links between diet and oral health in this guide.
1. Sugar Intake
Sugary foods are one of the biggest culprits concerning poor dental hygiene. Too much sugar intake will cause bacteria to form in your mouth, leading to plaque buildup, cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. In addition to avoiding sugary sweets like candy and cakes, be sure to limit your consumption of other sugary foods.
Not all sugar comes in the form of sweet treats. Many foods contain hidden sugars that can add up over time if you’re not careful. Foods like breakfast cereals, bread, sauces, and canned fruits can all be surprisingly high in sugar content — even a seemingly healthful yogurt or a granola bar may have more sugar than you think. Keeping an eye on nutrition labels and limiting your consumption of processed foods will help you keep your sugar intake in check.
In addition to watching what foods you eat, it’s essential to pay attention to how much sugar you’re consuming. A teaspoon of sugar contains about 16 calories, so if you’re consuming many sugary drinks or snacks throughout the day, you’re likely taking in more calories than you realize. For this reason, it’s essential to limit your beverages as well. Sugar-sweetened sodas and energy drinks should be avoided whenever possible.
2. Acidic Foods
Highly acidic foods can erode the enamel on your teeth, making them more susceptible to decay and cavities. Highly acidic foods include citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar-based sauces, pickles, and sodas. To reduce the amount of acid in your diet, rinse with water after consuming these types of food and drink. Additionally, eating a well-balanced diet that contains plenty of calcium-rich dairy products like yogurt or cheese will help strengthen your teeth’s enamel.
Not just what you eat can impact your teeth, but also how often you snack. Eating throughout the day can constantly expose teeth to acids or sugars. Therefore, it is essential to be mindful of how frequently you are snacking and ensure that if you are consuming snacks, they are not continuously eroding your tooth enamel.
If you are worried about the health of your teeth, it is important to speak to your family orthodontist, who can advise on how best to protect the enamel. Several techniques recommended by family orthodontists can help you safeguard the health of your teeth, such as keeping up a regular brushing and flossing routine and regularly visiting the dentist for check-ups.
3. Starchy Foods
Eating too many starchy foods like bread, pasta, and potatoes can also increase the likelihood of developing cavities. Starchy foods take longer to break down in the mouth, allowing bacteria more time to form plaque on your teeth. If you consume starchy foods, rinse with water afterward and brush at least twice a day.
In addition to cavities, starchy foods can also contribute to weight gain and obesity. These types of carbohydrates are broken down quickly in the body, causing a spike in blood sugar levels that can lead to abdominal fat if consumed excessively. Therefore, consuming starchy foods in moderation is essential, or opt for healthier whole-grain options such as brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables is key to avoiding the adverse health effects of eating too many starchy foods.
Including a variety of sources of carbohydrates in your diet can also provide essential nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and energy-boosting complex carbohydrates. Foods like legumes, oats, and barley provide crucial nutrients that help keep you full for extended periods. This can help prevent overeating and unhealthy snacking between meals. Choosing nutrient-dense carbohydrates over sugary snacks is a great way to ensure your body gets the fuel it needs without the added sugar or calories.
4. Highly Processed Foods
Highly processed foods like chips, candy, and cookies have little to no nutritional value and should be avoided as much as possible. These snacks are typically high in sugar and trans fats, which can contribute to tooth decay, gum disease, weight gain, and other unhealthy conditions. Instead of reaching for a bag of chips or cookies, opt for healthier snacks such as nuts, seeds, and air-popped popcorn.
When it comes to processed foods, it is best to choose items with minimal additive ingredients or that are close to their original form. For example, canned vegetables can be healthier than fresh vegetables if they are low in sodium and have no added sugar. Whole-grain bread and cereals are also better options than refined grains as they contain more fiber and other beneficial nutrients.
Also, reading labels can help determine the nutritional value of an item. Pay attention to the serving size and amount of sugar, sodium, and fat in packaged food products. In addition, look for items that are fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Your diet plays a significant role in your oral health. Making healthier dietary choices can help keep your teeth, gums, and overall well-being in tip-top shape. Eating a variety of nutritious foods while limiting sugar intake, avoiding acidic foods, watching portion sizes when it comes to starchy foods, and making smarter processed food selections will all help to promote good oral health. Regular visits to your dentist can also help ensure your mouth stays healthy and clean.