Many people often think of their oral health as a separate entity from the rest of their body, but the truth is that everything in your body is connected. If you have a health problem in your mouth, it can cause issues in other areas without your realizing it. Since March is National Nutrition Month, now seems like the perfect time to talk about how you can adjust your diet to best benefit the health of your teeth and gums.
1. Limit Snacking
Whenever you consume something with sugars or starches, bacteria in your mouth break down that food and create acid that erodes your enamel and ultimately causes cavities. Your teeth are susceptible to these acid attacks for about 20 minutes after you eat. Continuously snacking provides these bacteria with ample fuel to unleash destructive attacks on your teeth.
2. Eat Plenty of Calcium and Phosphorus
These minerals strengthen your teeth against decay. They can be found in abundance in foods like cheese, milk, yogurt, lean meats, nuts, and dark leafy greens.
3. Eat Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables
The fibrous skins of fresh fruits and veggies naturally scrub your teeth clean as you chew them. In addition, they stimulate the production of saliva, which rinses excess food particles and bacteria out of your mouth.
4. Chew Gum with Xylitol
Many types of chewing gum contain xylitol, a compound that has been shown to strengthen teeth. Chewing gum also stimulates saliva production, which is why it’s especially effective to chew it after eating when you can’t brush your teeth.
5. Stay Hydrated with Water
Try not to use sodas, fruit juices, or sports drinks to quench your thirst. They give your teeth a real sugar bath, increasing your risk of tooth decay. Water, on the other hand, is by far the healthiest drink for your teeth.
6. Don’t Brush Too Soon After Meals
You can floss if you would like, but don’t brush your teeth within thirty minutes after eating something acidic or sweet. This is because these items temporarily weaken your enamel, and the force of brushing could end up doing more harm than good. Give your saliva at least half an hour to neutralize the acids in your mouth.
Just because March is National Nutrition Month doesn’t mean you should limit these tips to March. Your teeth and gums will thank you to implement these tips year-round!
About the Author
Dr. Matthew Nawrocki is a graduate of the University of Florida College of Dentistry. In 2012, he passed his prosthodontic written board exams, becoming Board-certified eligible in prosthodontics, or the creation and placement of artificial teeth. His professional memberships include the American Dental Association, the Florida Dental Association, the Florida Prosthodontic Association, and the American College of Prosthodontics. To learn more tips for caring for your oral health this National Nutrition Month, visit Dr. Nawrocki’s website.