It’s no great secret that our diets affect every aspect of our health. What we eat is who we are, and our diets and dietary habits shape so many things about us. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that diet and oral health go hand in hand. Our teeth and gums are the first steps in our alimentary system, which allows us to eat and digest food effectively. So what is the best diet for oral health? What sorts of eating habits can we adopt to ensure that our smiles look their best? Let’s take a look–the answer might surprise you.
The first step in establishing a good diet for oral health is also the first step in establishing overall health: ensuring adequate hydration. Drinking enough water does a lot to keep the entire body healthy, and especially so for the teeth. Staying hydrated allows our salivary glands to produce enough saliva and thus prevents dry mouth. A dry mouth can cause a number of dental problems, including weakening enamel, tooth decay, or even tooth loss. Hydration is the first step in preventing this (and a number of other health issues) so make sure you drink enough water every day. The Mayo Clinic recommends 3.7 liters of water a day–or just shy of a gallon–for average adults under normal conditions. If you’re out in the heat or working hard, you may need more.
The next step in ensuring a good diet for oral health is to give some thought to what we eat. There are a number of foods that have a deleterious effect on our oral health, and they should be avoided or limited. One of the most important and obvious steps is to limit the amount of processed sugar in the foods we eat. This can be a bit tricky, as many prepared foods contain excess processed sugars, corn syrup, or other such sweeteners. It pays to pay attention to the ingredients list on the foods we eat and make appropriate choices accordingly.
Likewise, limiting alcohol consumption goes a long way towards enhancing oral health. The excess sugars found in alcoholic beverages contribute strongly to gum disease and tooth decay, and as such should be regarded as an occasional treat rather than a mainstay. In addition, alcohol consumption contributes to a number of other health problems which indirectly impact oral health. So if you do indulge in the occasional cocktail, drink responsibly and brush your teeth afterward.
So now that we’ve talked about what you shouldn’t eat, what should you eat to ensure good oral health? The answer is simple: a diet rich in vegetables, dairy, and lean proteins and limited in starches, sugars, and processed foods is the best path to healthy teeth and gums. Combined with a regular and effective brushing and flossing routine, a healthy diet will help keep your oral health in good shape and make sure your smile lasts a lifetime.
While home care and good habits are important, your teeth and gums also need regular exams and cleanings by an oral health professional. If you’re due for an exam and cleaning, give us a call today. Our friendly and helpful staff will make an appointment and get you in to see us as soon as possible.