The Dental Diet: Improve Tooth Health through Your Food Choices
Good oral hygiene improves your overall health
You’ve heard of the Paleo Diet. The Atkins Diet. The 17 Day Diet. But have you heard of the dental diet? Eating right isn’t just about losing weight. It’s also about keeping your teeth healthy and preventing tooth decay.
The Catch-22 of improving tooth health
We only get one set of adult teeth, so we need to do everything we can to maintain them for as long as possible. The Catch-22 of improving tooth health is that:
To eat nutritious foods, we need healthy teeth and gums: and we need to eat nutritious food for healthy teeth and gums. As children, what we eat, and how we take care of teeth, influences the way our teeth develop. And then, once all our teeth are in place, what we eat and how we take care of our teeth plays a role in maintaining our oral health.
Healthy teeth are easier to eat with, and so help your digestion, and the foods in the dental diet are perfect for your teeth.
Why you want to take care of your dental health
Preventing tooth decay, gum disease and bone loss are all reasons who you want to take care of your dental health. Also, your dental health can often tell your dentist about other serious health concerns such as:
- Heart disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Irritable bowel disease
- Sinus infection
A proper diet of crunchy fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat and staying hydrated with water is the best way to maintain good oral hygiene. This diet, the dental diet, will also look after your skin, as sugar often causes skin blemishes, and can actually make you tired rather than give you a buzz.
The dental diet will also help you maintain good overall health as it’s full of things designed to give your body the energy and nutrients it needs.
The best diet for your teeth
Our teeth are small, and most people take them for granted. But it’s important to remember that our teeth need to be taken care of too. So, when you choose your daily nutritional intake, don’t forget about your teeth. The longer you have your own teeth, the better it is for you.
Here are some foods and drinks for better dental—and overall—health:
- Cheese, chicken, nuts, milk
These foods are rich in calcium and phosphorus; two minerals needed to protect tooth enamel. Eating cheese also produces a lot of salvia which is good for protecting teeth against decay and bacteria.
- Fruits and vegetables
Crunchy fruits and vegetables like celery and apples provide a natural toothbrush effect. This is because of the fibrous nature of these vegetables which can help to clean your teeth. And because they both have a fairly high water count, they also rinse your mouth. Apples are also a good way to deal with bad breath.
Additionally: eating fruits and vegetables help your teeth by stimulating saliva flow to protect against tooth decay.
Whole grains like oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown rice are part of a balanced diet. These healthy-option grains can fill you up and prevent you from racking up calories from foods that will damage your teeth.
It is important to remember with grains that drinking plenty of water afterwards, and waiting at least half an hour before you brush your teeth is also important.
Water is the best way to stay hydrated. Plus, water often contains fluoride which can reduce tooth decay by as much as 25 percent.
After eating drinking water is a good way to rinse food particles off your teeth and gums.
- Sugar-free gum
Chewing sugar-free gum is good for you. It promotes salvia production and helps dislodge food from the crevices in your teeth. Chewing sugar-free gum can even reduce cavities and stop potential cavities from occurring.
But it must be sugar-free gum you chew. Chewing bubble gum or regular gum won’t help you as they are coated in sugar. Make sure that when you buying chewing gum it’s sugar free.
Sugar-free gum is a great alternative for the busy professional or university student who doesn’t have time to brush their teeth after lunch. It’s also great for coffee drinkers who want to minimize the staining of their teeth.
The worse diet for your teeth
Like any diet, the dental diet has its no-no’s. Stay away from these foods and drinks:
- Candy and desserts
You’re probably well aware that candy hurts your teeth, but most people eat it anyway. And why not? It doesn’t seem that harmless. Also: it tastes good.
Maybe further explanation will help: the sugar in candy sticks to your teeth, giving bacteria a warm welcome. Cough drops also have a sugar content that will flash a welcome sign to bacteria—so only use them if needed. When we say warm welcome, what we mean is that the bacteria on your teeth eat the sugar and essentially poop on your teeth, this process is what causes the process of decay.
- Soft drinks, lemonade, coffee and tea
Soft drinks, fruit juice, sports drinks, iced teas and energy drinks are incredibly high in sugar. When you drink these beverages, you are exposing your teeth to a flood of sugar—and if you drink them throughout the day it’s even worse because you aren’t giving the enamel of your teeth time to recover.
Tea and coffee aren’t naturally high in sugar—though they do have the potential to stain your teeth—but if you add a lot of sugar or sweetener to your daily drink, your teeth are getting showered with extra sugar throughout the day.
The worst thing you can do for your teeth
What’s the worst thing you can do for your teeth? Consume unhealthy/high in sugar snacks and drinks throughout the day. The more frequently you eat and drink these high in sugar foods and drinks, the more often you are exposing your teeth to decay. If you do snack, choose healthy foods like cheese, celery, carrots or apples.
Replace that energy drink with water—or if you really want an energy drink by a small can, and drink plenty of water afterwards.
There are sweetener options for tea and coffee that are as close to healthy as a sweetener can be. Choose one of these if you need to: that way you can enjoy your coffee or tea without worrying about the health—and appearance—of your teeth.
Maybe don’t think of it as a diet
The dental diet isn’t really a diet. It’s just how you should eat every day. Diet’s always have either negative connotations or the implication that you’re going to have to drastically change how you’re living.
Eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t indulge every once in a while
Diets sound restrictive. The dental diet is not. You can occasionally have candy, or chocolate. The odd energy drink or glass of soft drink is okay. As long as it is moderation.
The problem with continually snacking on sugary foods and drinks is that the enamel of your teeth doesn’t get time to recover. If you’re at work or school, the ideal thing to do after eating or drinking sugary foods and drinks is drink water and chew sugar-free gum.
That’s not what the dental diet is. It’s being careful with what you eat. It’s about being mindful of your oral health when you do indulge in something sugary.
The Dental diet for improved oral and overall health
Remember that eating a healthy diet like the above Dental Diet is the best gift you can give your teeth. The next best gift you can give is to visit a dentist twice a year. A checkup and clean every six months is a great way to ensure your oral health is on the right track.
Your Dentrix Dental Care dentist can assess your oral health, as well as give you a scale and clean. A scale and clean is when your dentist cleans your teeth in a way brushing and flossing cannot. This is important to prevent decay and gum disease.
If you would like to know more about the dental diet, or to request an appointment at Dentrix Dental Care, book an appointment here.