Why your health, lifestyle, and food choices are just as important for your mouth as brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups.
“You are what you eat” goes the common saying. When it comes to your teeth, this saying rings doubly true. What you put into your mouth directly expose your teeth to physical and chemical interactions. What can be worse, though, is the nutritional content of the food itself can have long-lasting, critical impact. That’s why your diet and lifestyle choices are so important. They affect your entire body’s complex ecosystem, and it all begins with the mouth.
The Power of Food
The average person’s teeth will come into direct physical contact with food several times a day. Whether a meal, snack, or beverage, daily wear and tear will have a profound impact on your teeth over time. That’s why watching what you eat is so important to the overall health of your teeth.
Acidic foods can slowly erode and strip away protective dentine, exposing your more sensitive inner tooth and pulp to damage. Sugary foods can fuel acid-producing bacteria. Meanwhile, eating foods that are too tough can physically damage your teeth with chips, cracks, and sometimes, tooth loss. The physical and chemical trauma we put our teeth through on a daily basis is immense, yet our teeth are nothing if not resilient.
However, only monitoring and minimizing the direct physical and chemical abuse we put our teeth through often isn’t enough. We also need a big picture view of the body as an integrated and interconnected whole. When one part of the body is sick, it weakens other areas of the body. When one part of the body is healthy and vigorous, it helps keep the other parts healthy and functional. Certain bacteria in your mouth, for example, can actually give you a headache if you’re not careful about what you eat. With the right diet we can keep most if not all of our natural teeth well into old age.
5 Easy Ways to Eat and Drink Your Way to Healthy Teeth
1. Drink Water
Want to be healthy? Drink more water. Want better teeth? Drink more water! While water contains no nutritional value, it is without a doubt the most important substance you can consume. Afterall, the average human body is approximately 60 percent water.
So what does it do for your teeth? It helps wash away extra food debris, bacteria, and other nasties often stuck in your teeth after a meal. Water also helps maintain a high saliva level, necessary for controlling bacteria levels and for the remineralization of your teeth.
Most importantly, drinking water displaces the sugary sodas, fruit drinks, and other sugar-laden beverages that would otherwise be both devastating for your health and for your teeth. Sodas, fruit juices, and beverages such as wine often contain teeth-staining tannins, are highly acidic, and often loaded with sugars. Water on the other hand not only will slake your thirst, but it also contains trace minerals, no sugars, and can be PH neutral. Buyers of bottled water should beware, however, since some bottled waters may not be PH balanced and can also erode your teeth over time.
2. Eat Dairy
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our body and the most important macronutrient when it comes to your teeth. The average person needs calcium for healthy teeth and gums.
Some assume that only women, children, and older adults require a high level of calcium to maintain a recommended level of bone density, and healthy teeth. This is not true. According to the National Academy of Sciences, even older children and teens (ages 9 to 18) need 1,300 mg per day, and adults ages 19 to 50 still require 1,000 mg of calcium per day.
One of the most effective (and delicious) ways to get the necessary amount of calcium we need is with dairy. Not only does dairy, and milk, in particular, but also contains significant amounts of calcium, it often contains or is enriched with vitamin D. Amongst its many roles, one of the most important things vitamin D does is help your gut absorb as much calcium as possible. Want strong bones? Drink milk with lots of calcium and vitamin D.
3. Eat Lean Proteins
Eat lean proteins to up your phosphorus intake. Right after calcium, the body’s most abundant mineral is phosphorus. 85 percent of that phosphorus is embedded in our bones and teeth.
But like many of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need and rely on, what makes phosphorus so important isn’t only its straightforward impact on teeth, but also it’s critical and multifaceted role in facilitating other necessary internal systems. It helps filter out waste in the kidneys, allows the body to utilize carbohydrates and fats, aids in protein production, and is a key component of energy-storing molecules such as ATP (adenosine triphosphate). While abundant and important for your teeth and body as a whole, individual lifestyle choices or preexisting conditions can make getting enough phosphorus a problem.
Those who suffer from diabetes or alcoholism may have low levels of phosphorus amongst other nutritional concerns. Likewise, diseases such as Crohn’s disease or Celiac disease can make the absorption of nutrients a problem.
4. Eat Your Vegetables
When in doubt, choose veggies. That’s right if it’s leafy and green, it’s probably good for you. Not only do vegetables pack a mighty punch regarding vitamins and minerals, but they also don’t directly fuel sugar-loving bacteria in the mouth. In fact, some more fibrous vegetables actually help scrape plaque and debris off your teeth while you chew. Not only are vegetables rich in fiber, but the extra chewing required to break them down also activates saliva production in the mouth.
Remember, your saliva is like a natural form of mouthwash that not only keeps bacteria and other germs in check but also plays a key role in the remineralization of your teeth.
5. Dump the Extra Carbs
Carbs aren’t inherently a bad thing. In fact, carbs are a critical part of a nutritionally complete and healthy diet. They are significant sources of calories and energy that are readily available and easy to digest. Unfortunately, problems arise when foods become too carb-laden.
Carb-heavy diets can be especially bad for you when a high percentage of a person’s carbohydrate intake are what the health industry call “empty carbs” or simple carbohydrates that offer a slug of sugar and quick energy but not much else. It’s the later that are especially terrible for your teeth and should be avoided.
Simple carbs in the form of white bread, kinds of pasta, and refined sugars are the fuel for a variety of acid-spewing bacteria. Even worse, many of these junk, carb-heavy foods, such as potato chips and sticky candies, have a nasty habit of getting stuck in one’s teeth providing energy-rich refuges for all sorts of nasty germs. Not only do these simple carbs directly fuel dentin-destroying bacteria, but they also don’t necessarily promote good health reducing the body’s ability to remineralize damaged teeth and fight off oral infections such as gingivitis.
Eat Right, Smile Bright!
Looking for a healthy, winning, bright smile? Eating right will help you get the smile you want and deserve. Combined with regular dental checkups and professional oral care as well as routine dental hygiene, eating right will not only make your entire feel and look better, it’ll also make your teeth feel and look they’re very best.
Sometimes even a healthy diet and good dental hygiene aren’t enough for a perfect smile. Whether because of trauma, genetics, or even a bad coffee habit, Dr. Reza Khazaie and his team of dental experts at Willow Pass Dental Care can offer the perfect treatment to achieve your perfect smile.
What’s stopping you from taking the first steps towards a red carpet smile?
Contact Willow Pass Dental Care today at 925-326-6114 or complete the Schedule An Appointment form below to arrange a consultation today and let us show you why Willow Pass Dental Care is the premier smile and dental clinic in Concord, California. We care deeply about our patients, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.