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Unlock the Secrets to Healthy Teeth and Gums Through Diet

Your oral health can have a tremendous impact on your daily life, from pain while eating to missing days of school or work due to treatment appointments.

One of the most important ways to protect the health of your teeth and gums is through a healthy diet that avoids a few common pitfalls. Let’s break down some of the best ways to put your diet to your advantage in your search for a healthy smile!

The Relationship Between Diet and Oral Health

Your body can only be as healthy as your daily food and drink, and that principle is just as true when considering your oral health. Without consuming a well-balanced diet, you run the risk of developing cavities, weakened enamel, yellowed teeth, and other common health conditions.

If you want to have a healthy smile and disease-free gums, you need to focus on foods that are sources of nutrients that support your oral health. In other words, you must eat foods that build up your tooth enamel, protect your teeth from decay, and support the health of your gums (more on that in the section below).

Diet includes more than what you choose to eat, however. You also need to know what foods to avoid. For example, excessively sweet foods with large amounts of sugar, from hard candies and cookies to pastries and even honey, can all do a number on your teeth. This is because the high sugar content in these sweet treats can coat your teeth in sugar, which acts like a magnet for bacteria.

For similar reasons, you should avoid or at least limit sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, sports drinks, cold tea, and juices. Meanwhile, plain water is a great way to stay hydrated while keeping your mouth cleaned out. Water with added fluoride provides even more benefits for protecting your teeth against tooth decay. 

The Most Essential Nutrients for Keeping Gum Disease at Bay

Certain vitamins and minerals play an outsized role in keeping your gums healthy and shiny. For instance, calcium and phosphorus each help your body rebuild your enamel, which protects the rest of your tooth. Dairy foods such as cheese, milk products, and yogurt, are high in calcium. Almonds and salad greens are also calcium-rich foods.

Similarly, you can add a lot of phosphorus to your body by eating meat (including fish and poultry), as well as eggs, milk, and other high-protein foods.

Because fruits and vegetables are high in fiber as well as water, they help your mouth produce more saliva, which is essential for neutralizing the effects of acidic foods and keeping teeth clean and safe from decay. Fruits and veggies with high levels of Vitamin C promote healthy gums, and vitamin A-heavy foods also support strong tooth enamel.

Limiting junk food and eating natural foods that support your overall health will give your teeth and gums the best fighting chance against oral diseases. 

Top 6 Mouth-Healthy Foods and Drinks

While following the basic guidelines above should put you on the right path for creating a mouth-healthy diet, the following are some of the core food and drink items that support oral health.

  1. Nuts High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Research has found a correlation between Omega-3 fatty acids and reduced inflammation, including when it comes to periodontal diseases and other gum conditions. Nuts such as walnuts and peanuts, as well as seeds such as flaxseed and pumpkin seeds, can boost your daily amount of nutrients, including anti-inflammatory Omega-3s.
  2. Fatty Fish. Similar to the first food type, fat-heavy fish such as salmon and mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids, meaning they can help with gum disease prevention.
  3. Grass-Fed Beef. The meat that comes from cows that have been grass-fed rather than grain-fed is high in collagen, which potentially aids with periodontal inflammation. Grass-fed beef is also high in (you guessed it) Omega-3 fatty acids. As mentioned above, beef is an excellent source of enamel-building phosphorus.
  4. Shiitake Mushrooms. While mushrooms generally possess a great variety of health benefits, the Shiitake variety has been found to have an especially positive effect on oral health. These mushrooms fight against gum disease (such as gingivitis), reduce both bacteria and fungal agents, help prevent dental caries (aka tooth decay), and lower the amount of biofilm on your teeth (that “fuzzy” feeling you get when you haven’t brushed in a few days).
  5. Broccoli. This green vegetable is a staple of most healthy diets for a good reason. It’s chock-full of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B1, iron, and magnesium. In terms of oral health, it helps the body strengthen the tooth through high levels of calcium, and it helps protects your gums from disease with Vitamin C.
  6. Green Tea. This popular drink is packed with catechins, a naturally occurring compound with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Like many of the other items on this list, that means green tea is great for regulating your immune response (which is connected to many chronic diseases) and thereby supporting your gum health.

Sugar-Free Products and Substitutes

When it comes to food and drink products that don’t contain added sugar, there are two things to keep in mind.

First, sugar substitutes such as sorbitol, mannitol, and aspartame contain no actual sugar and therefore don’t contribute to bacteria in your mouth the way that sugary foods do. In fact, the sugar substitute known as xylitol may have oral hygiene benefits such as cavity prevention.

In general, these sugar substitutes are safe for your oral health and won’t likely contribute to tooth decay, tooth loss, or the progression of gum disease.

Second, a food product labeled as “sugar-free” won’t have any added sugar, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any sugar that is naturally occurring in the product. For example, honey and cane sugar molasses don’t need to have any sugar added in order to be sweet enough to stick to your teeth and attract bacteria.

While eating firm fruit and vegetable items is good for oral health because their sugar is balanced out by the foods’ natural water content, other naturally sweet foods that lack water content can be bad for your teeth. The same goes for food choices that contain natural sweeteners such as sucrose and fructose.

The Role of Snacking in Oral Health

Although snacking between meals may seem benign, you should consider the long-term effect it may be having on your dental health. Each time you eat anything, you give your teeth the chance to build up the plaque that leads to tooth decay.

In other words, more time spent eating throughout the day increases your potential for plaque build-up while decreasing the amount of time your saliva has to clean your mouth out of leftover food particles. When you’re always eating throughout the day, you’re keeping your body from going through its natural process of getting rid of oral bacteria.

If you’re already in the habit of snacking, try to limit the number of snacks you munch on during the day. For example, if you currently snack between all three major meals and after supper, try cutting out one of those snack sessions. In addition, limit the amount of sugary snacks you eat in order to give oral bacteria even less of a chance to develop.

Does Chewing Gum Affect Healthy Teeth and Gums?

You might be wondering if chewing gum, which is sometimes grouped in with other snack items, is a good option for people looking to maintain their oral health.

As a matter of fact, chewing sugarless gum can be a great way to keep your teeth and gums healthy and your smile looking pearly white! By stimulating your mouth’s flow of saliva at the same time that it loosens up food debris that has gotten stuck on your teeth, chewing gum does some heavy lifting for your oral care routine.

In addition, sugarless chewing gum that contains ingredients such as xylitol can even fight against cavities and promote healing in your teeth. 

Contact Stuart Curry Dentistry Today to Schedule an Appointment!

Do you want to make sure that your teeth and gums are giving you the healthiest smile possible? Then it’s time to contact Stuart Curry Cosmetic Dentistry to schedule an appointment.

Join the Stuart Curry Dentistry family for exceptional general and cosmetic dental care in Birmingham, Alabama. Proudly serving Vestavia Hills and the surrounding areas.