Our mouth is an open window for nutrition, bacteria, and infection. Therefore, every food that we eat has some effect on the health of our teeth and gums. Most people in the world depend on processed food and sugary drinks, which has the potential to eat away the tooth enamel.
It is essential to switch to a healthy, nutritious diet to promote oral health. Moreover, it will help to enhance your overall health and well-being. This means cutting down sugary, acidic food, and drinks. Additionally, focusing on a rainbow diet which includes fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
While incorporating a well-balanced diet in your routine can bring a revolutionary change in your life, it is also essential to maintain a good oral health routine to take care of your teeth and gums.
Today’s article will highlight the link between food and oral health. Furthermore, we will discuss the types of food that can enhance the health of your teeth and gums.
What is the link between food and oral health?
Usually, two main factors affect the health of our teeth and gums such as –
- The type of food
- The frequency of intake
Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, is one of the most common dental problems interconnected with these factors. Frequent consumption of sugary food and drinks increases bacterial plaque formation on the tooth surface, leading to an acid attack on the tooth. Such damage is usually irreversible and affects the integrity of the tooth structure. In severe cases, it can also contribute to gum disease leading to tooth and bone loss. (1)
However, you can prevent further damage to the tooth by controlling the amount of sugar you eat in a day. Moreover, you can consult your dietician or nutritionist to provide suggestions for incorporating a nutritious diet.
What are the healthy food items that improve oral health?
A nutritious, healthy diet typically includes well-balanced portions of proteins, minerals, vitamins, and carbohydrates. Some of the healthy foods that you can add in your regular diet may consist of –
Fruits and vegetables – rich in fiber
Fibrous food is the healthiest for teeth and gums. Moreover, they increase the flow of the saliva in the mouth. Unlike sweet and starchy food that reduces the salivary flow and increases the bacterial acid attack on the tooth surface.
Saliva consists of trace amounts of calcium and phosphorus that help restore the early lesions caused by the bacterial attack. Additionally, fresh fruits and vegetables have enzymes that act as a natural defense against cavities and gum disease. (2)
Dairy products – calcium-rich
Usually, this category includes a variety of food, such as cheese, milk, and yogurt. All these products are again saliva makers. Additionally, dairy products tend to neutralize the pH of saliva in the mouth. Moreover, dairy products are a good source of calcium and phosphates, which remineralizes the tooth enamel and rebuilds the tooth’s integrity.
Black and green tea – rich in antioxidants
Both the black and green tea consists of polyphenols – a substance that is known for inhibiting the growth and formation of plaque and bacteria in the mouth. Thereby reducing the acid attack and preventing tooth decay or gum disease. (3)
Water and fresh juices – the source of fluoride
Fluoridated water is an excellent source of remineralizing your teeth. Moreover, it contributes to the prevention of severe gum diseases. Fresh fruit juice contains antioxidants and enzymes that maintain the health of the gums and surrounding tooth-supporting tissues.
Other healthy foods may contain –
- Nuts – Nuts like almonds, raisins, cashew, and walnuts are all tooth-friendly foods that contain phytochemicals and bacteria-killing enzymes. Additionally, nuts help in preventing gum disease in the long run
- Sugarless chewing gum – helps in increasing the saliva production in the mouth. Moreover, it contains xylitol, which prevents tooth damage and protects the integrity of gums.
What food should you avoid to maintain oral health?
You might want to look out for the following foods to protect the health of your teeth and gums –
- Sugar loaded food items – this usually includes candies and sweets, which has the potential to damage the tooth enamel causing dental caries. Moreover, it increases the formation of sticky plaque around the teeth and gums, which increases the risk of gum disease. (4)
- Starchy food such as bread, chips, and fried potato items usually get trapped in areas that are difficult to clean with a toothbrush. In the long run, it may cause severe damage to the teeth and gums.
- Teeth-staining drinks like coffee, tea, and red wine, are likely to stain your teeth. Usually, these drinks contain chromogens – a color pigment that stains the tooth enamel.
- Carbonated drinks are a leading source of added sugar, especially among teenagers. Moreover, they contain acidic components like phosphoric and citric acids that cause enamel erosion. (5)
- Food that can dry your mouth like alcohol and certain medicines can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease in the mouth.
A note on proper oral hygiene routine
While switching to a healthy diet might bring a significant change in your oral health, you must also follow an oral health routine to enhance your smile. The best way to do that is –
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Floss once a day to clean the interdental spaces.
- Smart snacking – try to cut down the frequency of snacking between meals. The more often you eat, the more acid attacks on your teeth. However, if you do want to snack, choose your food wisely.
- If you are a sweet lover and cannot resist eating at least one sweet per day, wear it with your meals. This is because your mouth makes more saliva during meals, which reduces bacterial acid production in the mouth.
- Chew sugarless gum afterward to increase saliva flow and wash out food debris and acid.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Follow up with your routine dental check-ups and professional cleaning.
Take away message
Our body is made of complex tissues that are influenced by the type of food you eat. Teeth and gums are one of these issues. Most of the people indulge in the habit of eating sugary and acidic food. Such practices can increase the risk of tooth decay, enamel erosion, and gum disease.
Therefore, it is essential to understand the importance of eating a well-balanced diet. Healthy food is equally delicious to eat. Moreover, they promote overall health and well-being. Some of the healthy foods that you can add to your regular diet include fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, dairy products, and green tea.
Additionally, focus on reducing the intake of sugary, acidic, and starchy food that damages the tooth structure. While you may enjoy a healthy meal in your routine life, it is wise to follow good oral hygiene.