Nutrition

A well-balanced, nutritious diet is important for good oral health and general health. The food we eat supplies the nutrients that the body, bones, teeth and gums need to renew tissues and help fight infection and disease, including periodontal (gum) disease.

  • Just like our bodies, our teeth and gums need many essential vitamins and minerals to stay strong and healthy.
  • To maintain strong teeth for your lifetime, make sure you eat enough whole-grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and calcium-rich foods.
  • You can still enjoy the occasional treat, just do it in moderation.

Dental health is a key part of your general health. Like our bodies need nutrients and care, so do our mouths.

Hectic lifestyles, fast food, fad diets, large amounts of sugar, and trendy supplements can have health repercussions. A poor diet can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay. Food high in sugars and starches increase the production of acids that can erode and weaken the tooth’s outer layer (enamel). Eventually, these acids can cause tooth decay.

Lack of proper nutrition can lead to other diseases and conditions in the body such as obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and some cancers, including oral cancer.

Vitamins & minerals that help keep teeth and gums healthy

  • Calcium (yogurt, milk, cheese)
  • Phosphorous (egg, beef, chicken, turkey, halibut, bread)
  • Vitamin A (liver, pumpkin, carrots, sweet potato, mango, spinach, broccoli)
  • Vitamin C (citrus fruits, cantaloupe, strawberries, tomatoes, cabbage)
  • Vitamin D (trout, mackerel, salmon, tuna, egg yolk, milk)
  • Omega-3 fats (certain vegetable oils, walnuts, flaxseeds and soy products, seafood, and fish oils)
  • Fluoride (water, toothpaste, oral rinses)

Food and your teeth

Calcium (with help from phosphorous and vitamin D) is the main component of teeth and bones. It’s what keeps them strong. Vitamin A is necessary for the formation of tooth enamel. Vitamin C is essential for healthy gums.
Phosphorus is stored in the teeth and bones. It is instrumental in helping your body balance and absorb calcium and magnesium.
Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay. In children, it works with calcium and phosphorous to help strengthen enamel. In older adults, it helps restore and harden enamel.

Snacks

Snacking throughout the day, especially on sugary treats and drinks, constantly bathes your mouth in sugar. This creates a perfect environment for bacteria. If you do need a snack choose tooth-friendly foods like cheese, nuts, fruit, or raw vegetables.

 

Sweets

Bacteria feed on sugars in your mouth. The more sugar you eat, the higher your risk of tooth decay. But there are tricks to eating treats.

Tips:

  • Eat sweets at mealtimes rather than between meals. You’re likely to eat less of them. There’s also more saliva in your mouth from eating a meal to help wash the sugar from your teeth.
  • Avoid hard candies. They bathe your mouth in sugar for a long period of time and they can also chip or crack teeth if bitten on.
  • Be careful of chewy candies and dried fruit. They stick to teeth and can even pull out dental work like fillings.
  • Watch for hidden sugars in food. Food that is high in carbohydrates, like pasta, breaks down to sugar.
  • Read the labels carefully. There are many alternate names for sugar, such as fructose and dextrose.
  • Be mindful of every teaspoon of sugar you put in your coffee or tea. It adds up!

Acid erosion

Some drinks and snacks have a low pH level, which means they are more acidic. The acid lingers in your mouth and strips away protective minerals. This can soften the surface of your teeth and makes them more vulnerable to damage. It can also lead to tooth sensitivity. The big offenders are fruit juices, sports drinks and carbonated drinks, such as pop.

Tips:

  • Neutralize the acid in your mouth is by swishing with flat water.
  • Eating a piece of cheese or drinking some milk can also cut down on lingering acid
  • Wait at least 30 minutes after eating before brushing. That’s when there’s less acid in your mouth and your enamel has re-hardened.
  • Choose water. The combination of sweetness and acidity in sports and energy drinks can lead to tooth decay and dental erosion.

Talk to your dentist if you have any questions about nutrition and dental health.

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Cliffcrest Dental

2995 Kingston Rd, Scarborough,
ON M1M 1P1, Canada