Nutrition & Oral Health

Posted on March 28, 2017

family picnic

Eating a well-balanced diet is an important part of healthy living and is crucial for maintaining your oral health and preventing tooth decay and gum disease. Here are some tips for making nutritious choices for a healthy smile.

Helpful, Healthy Minerals

The first line of defense for your teeth against tooth decay and cavities is enamel, a thin, tough shell covering the part of the tooth visible outside the gum. Enamel is the hardest tissue in your body, but it still needs help from calcium and phosphorus minerals to stay strong.

Protein-rich foods like meat, fish, poultry, and eggs are great sources of phosphorus to help strengthen enamel. Dairy products like cheese, milk, and plain yogurt all have high amounts of calcium, and also help to neutralize acids in the mouth, providing extra protection against cavities.

Don’t Forget Water

One of the best ways to help your oral health is to drink water throughout the day. Water is the most tooth-friendly beverage, washing away food particles and generating saliva, which is the mouth’s best natural defense against cavities. Certain crunchy fruits and vegetables, like apples, carrots, and celery, have a high water content in addition to being nutritious. Chewing them can help scrape and wash away food particles and plaque, and many contain vitamin C, which helps keep gums healthy.

Sugars & Sweets

Drinking water can also help fight the effects of common sugary drinks like soda, energy drinks and sports drinks. These all contain high amounts of added sugar, which the bacteria in your mouth feeds off of, releasing harmful acids that can erode enamel and cause cavities.

Sugar can also be a problem with sticky or chewy sweets and snacks, which cling to your teeth and become difficult to remove. When you snack, try to include teeth-friendly alternatives like nuts, fresh veggies, cheese, or plain yogurt.

By following these tips and maintaining a well-balanced diet, you can help your teeth stay healthy and strong, and you will feel better as well. And always remember to schedule regular checkups with your dentist for professional cleanings to help achieve and maintain the smile of your life.

Want to learn more about healthy eating? Find tips, recipes, and resources at choosemyplate.gov.

Categories: Oral Health
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