A healthy smile starts with eating a balanced diet to protect teeth and gums. Not only do healthy teeth allow you to chew (and digest) the nutritious foods that your body needs, but if your diet is poor, your mouth’s resistance to infection is lowered. Mouth-healthy foods include fresh fruits, leafy greens, vegetables and lean meat and dairy, all giving you the nutrients you need to thrive.
Modern diets can’t seem to get away from sugar because manufacturers add it to nearly everything. If you read the packaging on processed foods, it’s often added for flavor and as a preservative. The problem is sugar feeds the oral bacteria, which then attacks tooth enamel and creates harmful plaque and tartar.
If you love soda, you should know that it is one of the biggest “bad guys” when it comes to sugar (and acid). Sucrose is a major culprit in tooth decay, so regular consumption of soda, candy, cakes, pies and cookies are top tooth hazards. Even dried fruits harm tooth enamel since they are high in sugar and often sticky, so they cling to enamel. Sugar is also derived from starches like bread, chips, cereals, and pretzels, leading to tooth decay when consumed regularly.
Sticking to fresh fruits like raw apples can safely satisfy sweet cravings and protect your pearly whites. Raw fruits require lots of chewing, which stimulates saliva production that lowers oral acidity, rinses away food particles, and diminishes cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth.
Permanent damage to teeth and gums also arises from acidic foods and drinks as they erode precious tooth enamel, and unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to begin the erosion process.
Highly acidic liquids:
- Citrus juice (lemon, grapefruit, lime, orange)
- Fruit juices (apple, grape, cranberry)
- Tonic water
- Iced tea
- Sports drinks
Highly acidic foods:
- Fruits (such as pineapple, berries, oranges and lemons)
- Pickles (such as cucumbers, artichokes, beets and sauerkraut)
Protect your teeth from an acid attack by waiting half an hour after eating or drinking before brushing your teeth. You can rinse food particles and oral debris out of your mouth after consuming these items by swishing with plain water for 30 seconds. When you do brush, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush gently at a 45-degree angle.
Oral Care Tips
- When you are away from home and can’t brush, try chewing sugarless gum. The act of chewing stimulates saliva production and flushes away food particles while lowering your oral acids.
- Avoid dry mouth (insufficient saliva production), which increases your risk of tooth decay. Stay well hydrated, and be sure to brush your teeth before bedtime. Saliva production slows down while you sleep, so don’t skip your nightly brushing routine!
- Don’t skip your biannual dental checkups. These are crucial to a healthy smile as we remove hardened dental plaque and check teeth and gums for potential problems.
This November, we hope you enjoy the sweetness of being with loved ones, consuming tasty, healthy foods and beverages and remember all the things you are thankful for! We are here to help you take good care of your teeth and gums so you can be grateful for your healthy smile and body!