Healthy Eating Habits to Protect Your Teeth

Healthy eating habits contribute to your overall health and wellness, but did you know eating the right foods in the right way can also protect your teeth and gums? Your oral health is dramatically affected by what, how, and when you eat and drink. Certain foods that are healthy for your body may also contribute to tooth decay. The key is moderation, proper oral health care, and knowing what foods are best for your oral health.

Limit Sugary Foods

Sweets are a go-to snack for many who crave sugar, but too much sugar can cause severe tooth decay. Limit candies, sweetened fruit drinks, sodas, and desserts filled with sugar but low on nutritional value. When they come into contact with plaque in the mouth, sugars break down and form acids that attack the teeth, damaging the enamel.

Sticky sweets, such as caramel, toffee, and taffy, contain sugars that are difficult to remove from the teeth even with brushing. Your mouth’s bacteria can feed off these sticky sugars long after you are done eating, producing acids that eat away at tooth enamel.

Eat Healthy Foods

You will develop dental problems if you survive on junk food and coffee. Healthy eating habits should include plenty of nutritious fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Starches can be eaten in moderation, but some starch converts to sugar, so limit your intake of sweet bread and pastries. If you are eating mainly fatty, salty foods, you probably do not get the nutrients you need. Your immune system is compromised without proper nutrition, and the oral cavity is more susceptible to infection. If your gums and mouth lining are not healthy, disease and infection can spread rapidly. Yogurt, milk, and other dairy products help your body maintain bone density, including your jawbone and contribute to strong teeth and gums.

Timing is Important

Avoid sugary foods and beverages late in the day, particularly before bed, as the sugar can pool in the mouth and lead to decay. After you eat sugary, sticky, or highly spiced foods, it is essential to brush your teeth after eating. If you can’t brush immediately after eating, brush before going to sleep. Chewing gum containing xylitol can be helpful when brushing is not an option, as it increases saliva production. This can help wash away some of the sugars and acids that attack the teeth.

Studies have shown that grazing throughout the day is not good for your oral health, as each sugary snack or drink can attack your teeth with acids for up to an hour. Try to limit sugary foods to mealtimes and avoid them in between meals.

Snacking Right

We all eat snacks occasionally, and growing children seem to be hungry all the time. However, frequent snacking and sugary drinks contribute to dental caries. If you eat throughout the day, the sugar and resulting acid erosion continually attack the teeth. When you can stick to three meals daily with one or two snacks. It is imperative to avoid giving sugary treats to children before bed and never let them take a bottle, sippy cup, or snack to bed with them.

Savory foods are the best choice for between-meal snacks. Raw vegetables, pretzels, bread sticks, cheese, and fresh, raw fruits and vegetables are good choices. Leafy green and cruciferous vegetables are excellent choices. Raw fruits and vegetables also encourage saliva production to rinse away sugars and minimize plaque.

Dr. Herschleb and his dental care team are always available if you have questions about healthy eating habits and how they can improve your oral health. Contact our office today if you have questions or would like an appointment.

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