Have you ever spoken to your General Dentist about how your diet impacts teeth? It turns out it affects them quite a lot. According to the American Dental Association, the foods you choose and how often you eat them can affect your general health and the health of your teeth and gums, too. If you consume too many sugar-filled sodas, sweetened fruit drinks or non-nutritious snacks, you could be at risk for tooth decay.
Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease, but the good news is that it is entirely preventable.
Healthy foods for your teeth
Here are some examples of food that are great (or at least neutral) for your teeth. Notice that most of them are not overly processed and contain very little amounts of sugar.
This includes lemons or limes, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, kiwis, grapefruit, avocados or watermelon. Other fruits which contain a lot of sugar can have a negative impact on your teeth.
These include lean beef, skinless poultry, fish, dry beans, peas and other legumes. Unlike sugars, proteins are complex and large molecules that are not an easy source of food for the bacteria living in your mouth. The bacteria can process this food but with much more difficulty, and so they will grow more slowly.
If you are eating or drinking dairy, make sure it is low in fat. Dairy does contain lactose, which is a simple sugar that bacteria like, so it is best to limit your dairy intake.
Vegetables have all of their sugar locked into large molecules called cellulose and starch. Our bodies are equipped to digest these kinds of molecules, but bacteria cannot do so easily. They must expend much more energy for digestion and so they cannot grow as fast.
Now here is a "food" that contains no sugar. There are many reasons to drink a lot of water, and one of them is it will not help the bacteria in your mouth grow and it is great for quenching thirst.
Whole, unprocessed grains have more nutrients and vitamins than wheat that has been bleached. White and bleached flours have mostly been reduced to easy-to-digest sugary components, and so it is a great source of food for bacteria.
If you are on a special or unique diet (like those with diabetes), then it is best to work with both your general dentist and physician to determine the healthiest course of action for you. Not everyone can eat the same way, and so make sure to be open with your healthcare team about any changes you are making.
What else can I do?
As always, it is important to brush and floss daily and to visit your general dentist at least twice per year. Maintaining a healthy diet can be just as important because eating is an activity most people do every day. Staying conscious and alert of your eating will help ensure healthy teeth for years to come.
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