Woman wonders how her diet affects her teeth and dental hygiene

How Your Diet Affects Your Teeth & Smile

We all know that our diet is impactful on the health of our bodies, but did you know that your diet can affect your teeth as well? It’s true! There are certain foods that benefit the health of your teeth, and others that degrade their physical condition. Some may be obvious, like sodas and candy, but others are often less apparent.

Every food or beverage you consume comes into contact with your teeth, meaning that those foods will impact the health of your teeth and gums. How exactly does that work? We’ve compiled a guide to explain food’s impact on your oral health.

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Culprits to Cavities and Decay

We were all young once, and likely we all endured the unfortunate experience of realizing that we had cavities that needed to be filled. Many foods that typical American children consume一processed sugar, candy, soda一eat away at the tooth’s enamel, causing cavities. These foods have come to be associated clearly with tooth decay and are readily avoided by most parents.

But what about the other foods that cause cavities? If you hadn’t thought of that question in the past, don’t worry: few people do. But there are other foods that should be avoided to ensure good dental health.

Skip the Sticky

Tacky foods such as honey, raisins, dried fruits, and molasses, as well as starchy foods like potato chips and bread, cling to the surface of your teeth and increase the risk of cavities. These items are best enjoyed in moderation and followed by good oral health habits, such as brushing and flossing, and are acceptable in small amounts.

Watch the Acidity

Fresh produce such as tomatoes, lemons and oranges are all important parts of a healthy diet, however the acidity in citrus fruits and other types of fruits can negatively affect your tooth enamel. Try eating them with other foods as part of a meal.

Be Mindful of Staining

Drinks such as coffee, tea and red wine, though delicious, can adversely affect the outer layer of your teeth, known as enamel. The color pigments present in these beverages, called chromogens, attach to and stain enamel. While that doesn’t mean they’re totally off limits, be sure to drink plenty of water to wash it down.

Drink Responsibly

Alcohol consumption can lead to dry mouths and dehydration, which are two risk factors for tooth decay. While limiting your alcohol consumption over time is a smart move, especially since alcohol can increase your risk of mouth cancer, make sure to drink lots of water alongside any alcohol that you consume.

The Right Eating Habits

Blueberries and other anti inflammatory foods are good for your teeth and smile

This guide isn’t all about the stuff you should avoid一we also want to equip our readers with a good idea of what foods are good for teeth.

Go for Anti-inflammatory

Anti-inflammatory foods, such as cherries, blueberries, kale, broccoli, beans, lentils and more, can help the health of your teeth as much as they do the rest of your body. Studies show that an anti-inflammatory diet correlates with healthier gums and lower rates of teeth loss, while certain refined foods and saturated fats contribute to inflammation.

Calcium Counts

Those who get the recommended daily amount of calcium, which is between 1,000 and 1,300 milligrams each day, are less likely to develop gum disease. Milk is an obvious source, as are other dairy products, but other foods can satisfy a calcium need, including beans, almonds and leafy greens.

Keep it Balanced

The American Dental Association recommends eating a well-balanced diet, made up of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins like fish and beans, as well as dairy. All these foods contribute to better oral health.

Healthy Fats

An important component of an anti-inflammatory diet, healthy fats promote oral health. This includes olive oil, fatty fish such as salmon, avocados, and nuts. Be careful with that last one一though nuts are good for your health overall, you’ll want to make sure to brush and floss after you’ve eaten them.

What Else Can You Do?

Toothbrush used to maintain good oral health in patient

Now that you have a better idea of what to eat and what to avoid in regards to your diet, consider the other actions that you can take to promote the health of your teeth.

Stay Hydrated

Water is essential to the protection of our teeth (and the health of our bodies!), so don’t skimp when it comes to hydration. It supports the health of your teeth and washes away residual food particles that could negatively impact your oral health. Water also stimulates saliva production, which keeps the mouth clear and free of leftover food.

Try Sugar-free Gum

It may not be something that you’re used to hearing, but if the gum you chew is sugar-free, it can be really good for your oral health! Chewing sugarless gum reduces the risk of cavities because it stimulates saliva and moves around materials that may lead to tooth decay.

Practice Good Oral Health Habits

If you are trying to keep your teeth healthy and happy, the best way to do so is keeping them clean. Be sure to practice good oral health habits, like brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day. Leftover food particles can contribute to the erosion of enamel and the creation of cavities.

Your diet can affect more than just your waistline–if you’re not careful, you may find yourself in an unfortunate dental situation. Avoid any unnecessary doctor visits and cavity fillings by keeping your mouth and teeth in pristine shape through a series of good dietary choices and even better cleaning habits.

If you have questions regarding your teeth and wish to speak to a doctor, contact Blue Ridge Orthodontics, a leader in Asheville dental services.

We hope that your teeth are in the best shape they can be. If you are in need of orthodontic correction, find out if you’re a candidate for Impressions.