There’s nothing quite like biting into a big, juicy burger or crunching on popcorn while sipping on a cold soda during a movie. But have you considered how these foods (and others) affect your teeth and gum health? You should!
“The foods you eat can contribute to tooth decay, tooth staining, gum disease, and other dental health issues,” says Dr. Hawkins, one of our dentists here at The Winning Smile Dental Group.
Learn more about why a “healthy dental diet” is important and why healthy food equals healthy teeth.
The link between dental health and nutrition
Here are the facts: You need healthy teeth to eat nutritious foods. And you need to eat nutritious foods for healthy teeth.
Your teeth may be small but they play a big role in your overall health and wellness. Just as you consider how a certain food might affect your health, you also need to think about how it will affect your teeth.
Tooth decay, gum disease, and bone loss aren’t just bad news for your smile. Left untreated, these issues are linked to other problems like:
- Heart disease
- Premature birth/birth defects
Good dental health starts with good dental hygiene habits. Things like regular brushing and flossing and visiting the dentist twice a year is a baseline for avoiding issues. But it won’t completely offset the risk.
Give your dental health an even better chance by adopting a healthy diet. At the very least, you should limit your intake. Especially when it comes to snacking.
Snacking and dental health
When you’re eating, bits of food get caught between your teeth and coat their surfaces. Left to sit there even for just a short period of time, the acidity and sugar in these particles will have a feast of their own — on your enamel! Over time, you’ll deal with issues like erosion, decay, and cavities.
Brushing and flossing your teeth after a meal can help offset these negative effects, ensuring negative bacteria and acidity don’t have much time to do any damage. Your saliva is also on your side and will get to work remineralizing your teeth, buffering any acid from the food and clearing away food particles.
But snacks throw everything off. Most of us aren’t running to brush and floss every time we eat a handful of chips, snack on some fruit, or gulp down a sweet beverage. And that’s when the tooth decay process goes wild.
When you snack throughout the day, the result is an environment constantly barraged by bacteria and acidity. Your saliva can’t keep up with its job and your mouth is left to deal with a high level of acidity for a long period of time, leading to tooth decay.
Bad food for your teeth
Starchy foods are some of the worst offenders for your pearly whites. But you should also be careful of highly acidic foods, and sticky foods. And of course, a common denominator in most of these is sugar.
Starchy foods — Starchy foods are filled with sugar and will encourage the growth of bacteria and cavities
Highly acidic — Acidic foods damage tooth enamel, dissolving your teeth and leading to cavities
Sticky foods — Sticky foods do exactly what you might think — stick to your teeth! This offers a long-term source for bacteria and contributing to gum disease
Filled with sugar — Sugar fuels the bacteria living in your mouth, causing decay
Take a look at a few of the worst foods for your mouth (and where they fall on the scale).
Good food for your teeth
Foods that make your teeth and gums happy are those low in all the areas bad foods are high.
You should enjoy foods high in nutrients needed to help maintain your tooth structure, support your immune function, and keep your mouth healthy. Some of the best ones to incorporate into your diet include:
- Vitamins A, B, C, D
Take a look at some of the best foods for teeth.
Healthy meal ideas for your smile
Need some meal inspiration? Here are a few meals that are good for your teeth and taste delicious, too.
- Yogurt with fresh fruit, like berries, bananas, and watermelon
- Whole grain toast with egg and avocado
- Oatmeal with berries and nuts
- Reuben or tuna sandwich on whole grain bread
- Spinach salad with walnuts and goat cheese
- Vegetable and quinoa stew
- Blackened redfish with steamed green beans and brown rice
- Whole-wheat pasta with shiitake mushrooms, garlic, and grilled chicken
- Spicy shrimp tacos
Snacking smart for your teeth
We know cutting out snacks from your day is probably impossible. We really don’t expect you to stop snacking altogether! However, there are a few things you can do to limit the negative effects snacking can have on your teeth.
- Choose teeth friendly snacks
- Rinse your mouth with water after snacking
- If possible, brush your teeth
- Avoid constant snacking, give your mouth some time to rest and remineralize!
Bonus: A few teeth-friendly snack ideas
- Celery or apple with peanut or almond butter
- Carrots or cucumbers with hummus
- Nut trail mix
- Cheddar cheese sticks
- Berry and yogurt smoothies
What other questions do you have about eating healthy for your teeth?
We’d love to help you learn more about keeping your teeth healthy and beautiful. Schedule an appointment at The Winning Smile Dental Group today. Our dentists can’t wait to answer all your questions.
A native of Yazoo City, Dr. Lee Gary received his degree from Mississippi College and his Doctor of Dental Medicine from The University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry. Dr. Gary is dedicated to not only cosmetic transformations but the overall health and well-being of his patients.