Keeping your teeth and gums
beautiful, healthy, and strong is about more than just brushing, flossing, and
avoiding sweets. Good nutrition also plays a large role in your dental health.
A balanced diet, characterized by moderation and variety, will help boost your
body's immune system, so you'll be less vulnerable to oral disease. A healthy
diet also provides the nutrients your body needs to maintain strong teeth and
Recent research has found that
your dental health isn't just affected by what you eat. It's also affected by
how often you eat. Every time you eat a starchy food, like crackers, bread,
cookies, or candy, the bacteria in your mouth feast on it. In turn, they
produce acids that attack your teeth for 20 minutes or more. And the more
frequently you eat, the more your teeth are exposed to these acids, which can
eventually dissolve your tooth enamel. Also, foods that stick to your teeth, like
potato chips and dried fruit, as well as foods that are slow to dissolve in
your mouth, like hard candies and granola bars, give acids more time to work on
destroying your tooth enamel.
Another way your diet can affect
your dental health is the way you combine your foods. Sticky or starchy foods
create less acid in your mouth when they are eaten as part of a meal. Why?
Because saliva production increases at mealtime, and saliva not only rinses
away food particles, but it also neutralizes harmful acids and helps to
remineralize your teeth, making them more resistant to acid attacks. Also,
eating foods like nuts, cheese, onions, and certain teas has been shown to
actually slow down the growth of decay-causing bacteria.
One of the main offenders when
it comes to tooth decay is soda, dubbed "liquid candy" by many
nutritionists. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has identified soda
as the number-one source of refined sugar in the American diet. In fact, a
12-ounce can of soda contains a quarter cup of sugar: about 12 teaspoons! And
soda also contains phosphoric acid, which can erode the protective enamel layer
of your teeth.
American teenagers have doubled,
or even tripled, their consumption of soft drinks over the past decade. This is
bad news for their teeth, because soft drinks literally bathe teeth in sugar
and phosphoric acid for an extended period of time. And soda usually replaces a
healthy, nutrient-rich alternative like milk.
nutrition for oral health
To maximize your nutrition and
your oral health:
You may also be interested in:
- limit your intake of sweets and refined starches like crackers or white
bread to once or twice a day;
- brush, rinse, or chew sugarless gum immediately after eating;
- eliminate soda from your diet or limit it to special occasions;
- make sure you get plenty of calcium and vitamins B, C and D, which
help to keep your bones, teeth, and gums strong and healthy;
- avoid breath mints, gum, and cough drops that contain sugar;
- read food labels to check for hidden sugar;
- and remember that "natural" sugars are also harmful to your teeth.
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