The Smile Diet: How Eating Impacts Dental Health

It’s no secret that if you care about dental health, you need to watch what you eat. How many of us remember being told by our parents that candy will rot our teeth or that too much soda leads to cavities?

While it is definitely true that eating too much sugar wreaks havoc on teeth, it isn’t just sweets that we need to watch out for. There are a whole host of other foods that can negatively impact our dental health even if we brush and floss regularly.

In this article, I outline some tips for developing a dental-friendly diet and explore how regular dental care can reduce anxiety about visiting the dentist by boosting a person’s confidence in their dental health. We invite you to share this article with patients, friends and family via your practice website using this link.

good food choices

Foods to Avoid

The most important rule to follow when eating for dental health is to avoid sugars and starches – or at least to not consume too much of them. This is because these foods feed harmful bacteria that produce acid in your mouth. As the ph level in your mouth drops, these acids will start eating into the enamel protecting your teeth.

If this process goes on long enough, you will get tooth decay to that leads to cavities or even lose teeth altogether. Here is a short list of foods that should only be indulged in sparingly (and if you do, brush as soon as possible afterwards):

  • Sugary drinks (including energy drinks)
  • Hard candy
  • White bread
  • Dried fruits
  • Potato chips
  • Alcohol

Foods that Boost Dental Health

Health isn’t just about avoiding the bad – it is also about increasing your intake of healthy foods that will have a positive impact on your dental health. As Dr. Andrew Greenberger explains in the following video, this means eating more vegetables and fruits that are rich in fibre and vitamin C. Fibre rich foods help to clean your teeth and vitamin C strengthens your gums, making you more resistant to gum disease. 

Many people simply aren’t aware of the right foods to choose. Foods high in fibre and/or vitamins include:

  • Avocado – This super food is different from most other fruits as it is loaded with healthy fats instead of carbs. Avocados are very high in fibre, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E as well as various B vitamins.
  • Raspberries – Raspberries are a highly nutritious fruit and they are positively loaded with both vitamin C and manganese as well as fibre.
  • Bananas – Bananas are an incredible source of source of nutrients across the board, including vitamin C, vitamin B6 as well as potassium.
  • Broccoli – A type of cruciferous vegetable and one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, broccoli is jam-packed antioxidants and powerful cancer-fighting nutrients, as well as vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, B vitamins, iron and potassium. Broccoli also packs a lot more protein, compared to other vegetables.
  • Chia Seeds – Chia seeds are very tiny black seeds that are quite popular in the natural health community and they pack a ton of fibre, along with magnesium, phosphorus and calcium.
  • Sweet Potatoes – This popular tuber that is very filling and happens to have a delicious sweet flavor. On top of providing some fibre, it’s also very high in beta-carotene, B vitamins and various minerals.

Overall, one of the most important minerals to include in your diet is calcium. Calcium helps keep your teeth strong and their enamel resistant to the acids that weaken them and lead to cavities.

But as always, it is important to keep the cardinal rule of dental health in mind – avoid too much sugar when making food choices. Sweetened orange juices or flavoured yoghurts may be a great source of vitamin C or calcium but if they contain added sugar these benefits will be neutralized. 

The Importance of Regular Check Ups

Eating the right foods and avoiding the wrong ones is a great way to keep your mouth healthy but they are no substitute for regular dental care.

Many people – especially young people – are sometimes reluctant to visit the dentist in part because they are worried that it will hurt or that they will find out they have a cavity.

But the truth is that eating well and maintaining good dental health through diet will only be effective if you are getting regular feedback from your dentist about your overall dental health and what you can do to improve it.

A regular check up will help you catch any potential health issues before they escalate into serious problems and help you stay honest about your diet and how it is impacting your oral health. And, many dental offices are now making it much easier to request or confirm an appointment via text messaging or email so inconvenience is no longer an excuse!

By focusing on eating healthy, vitamin and mineral rich foods that build strong teeth and gums and by scheduling regular dental check ups, you can help ensure that your teeth stay in great shape for years to come.

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